Soon after the IPL first revealed Vivo as their new title sponsor, Cricinfo featured an article on their front page with the headline, "IPL bigger than EPL". Clicking on the headline sent me to a video which broke down the incredible new $341m sponsorship deal and put it into context against two of the biggest leagues in the world - the NFL and the EPL. It is unbelievably impressive that a league which has only existed for 10 years can be compared against those massive global brands. But I was sceptical whether the video really contained evidence to justify the claim that the IPL was now bigger than the EPL
The headline was based on two numbers contained within the video: that the new sponsorship deal was worth $68m (₹440 Crore) and that the English Premier League is currently sponsored by Barclays for $57m. The second number is actually a bit misleading as the EPL currently does not have any title sponsor. The league has instead decided to partner with multiple brands (including Barclays) rather than one single organisation. I couldn't find an all-encompassing number which accounts for all the new sponsors but my guess is that the total is significantly higher than $57m, especially given how fast broadcasting deals are rising
In securing the rights to have their name associated with the IPL brand, Vivo bid more than 50% over their only competitor (₹2199 Crore vs. ₹1430 Crore). This is an outrageous margin and suggests that they may have inflated the apparent value of the deal through their determination to win it
I think it is highly unlikely that we will see such a large margin when the winning bid for the broadcasting rights is revealed later this month. Because the broader point is that revenue from title sponsorship is dwarfed by the revenue from broadcasting rights anyway. The current deal with Sony is worth $1.63 billion over 10 years (or $163m per year) and this is set to skyrocket when bidding starts again on July 17
Estimates for the new deal range from $2.8 billion (₹18000 Crore) to $4.6 billion (₹30000 Crore) for a 5-year deal. Some sources doubt whether the top end of that range, or even 3 billion, is a plausible target. However, let's be optimistic and assume that the broadcasting value has increased just as much as the title sponsorship appears to have done. The new $68m per sponsorship deal with Vivo represents a 430% increase on the original deal with DLF back in 2008 ($13m per year). If we apply the same adjustment to the broadcasting rates we reach a figure of $870m per year
This still lags way behind the English Premier League who currently have deals with Sky and BT for $2200m (£1700m) per year. The Cricinfo video also compares the new IPL sponsorship compares with the NFL. It is hard to find a single value but it is definitely even larger than the EPL. Some sources have NFL broadcasting revenue as high as $7000m per year
Many people want to point out that the EPL and the NFL have more games than the IPL. This is irrelevant to the claim that the IPL is bigger than the EPL. A key component of being a big league is the actual size of the league. One huge achievement of the IPL is to have the international schedule work around its season so that the biggest stars can compete, but it is unlikely to have the same success if the season increases in length
For those still wondering, here is the same graph but displayed per match, per team and per capita. Bear in mind that the IPL figures are based on the highest reasonable estimates of the final outcome in July...