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Indian Premier League: Bollywood and Entrepreneurship Transform a Sport

Indian Premier League: Bollywood and Entrepreneurship Transform a Sport

George Foster, David Hoyt
2009|Case No.SPM38

The sport of cricket is an obsession in India, the country that is the most important economic force in the cricket world. In 2007, top-level cricket was played primarily by national teams. Domestic leagues were controlled by national governing bodies, and consisted of domestic players, the best of whom also played on the national team.

In September 2007, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced that it was forming a new cricket league, the Indian Premier League (IPL). The league would consist of city-based franchises, and would play its first season beginning in mid-April 2008. During its six week season, each team would play every other team twice, with the best four teams participating in playoffs that would determine the overall champion.

Teams would include the best international players. Much was required to make this happen. Team franchises were auctioned in January 2008, with the eight winners paying a total of $718 million for their franchises. Television rights for ten years were sold for $1 billion. In February, an auction for players was held, with the franchises paying over $45 million for the top 75 international players. This turned the salary structure for cricketers upside down around the world, as players would receive more for six weeks of work than they could expect for a year or more from their national governing bodies.

The league drew from Bollywood (the other primary Indian passion) to increase the entertainment value of games. The league and teams faced many challenges in preparing for their first season, which are discussed in the case. The league’s first season captivated India, as well as much of the rest of the cricket world, and was a tremendous success.

Following its first year, the IPL faced the challenge of maintaining its momentum into the future, and building on the success of its inaugural season. Both international and national cricket covering bodies pondered how to adapt to the changes caused by the IPL’s success.

Finally, the economic recession and major terrorist attacks in India (November 20008) and Pakistan (March 2009) threatened the ability of the league to proceed with its second season, which was scheduled to start in mid-April 2009.

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