It may be the newest kid on the T20 league block, but the Pakistan Super league (PSL) has punched above its weight in its inaugural season. In the recently concluded first season of the PSL, as many as 100 international cricket players from 9 different countries were signed up for the draft process as opposed to the auction format of Indian Premier League. 17 top coaches signed the consent forms and the PSL grandeur was experienced in Sharjah and Dubai with a total of 24 matches between the five teams. There was no lack of talent or big names that were associated with the event. In fact, on closer examination and adjusting for size and scope differences, the Season 1 numbers of the PSL compare favorably to the one that started it all – Season 1 of the Indian Premier League (IPL). Pakistan Cricket Board announced the official launch of the Pakistan Super League in September 2015 with former Pakistan cricketers Wasim Akram and Ramiz Raja being the brand ambassadors promoting the event. The league officially kick-started on February 4, 2016, with five teams. Indian Premier League was officially established by Board of Control for Cricket in India in 2007. The first season commenced April 2008 with 8 franchises. IPL 1 earned a little more than twice the revenues of PSL 1 with almost a double reach and viewership segment. While PSL had 24 matches in all for the 5 participating teams, IPL had 59 matches overall for the 8 franchise teams, which itself had given IPL a wider window to reach fans. Also, when IPL season 1 was launched, the T20 format itself was new to the world of cricket and with the triumph of the Indian Cricket team led by Captain MS Dhoni at the inaugural edition of ICC World T20, IPL was able to capture the right audience and commercial value. IPL also benefited as it was star-studded with Bollywood celebrities such as Shah Rukh Khan, Shilpa Shetty and Preity Zinta who helped pull a massive crowd. Let’s take a look at a parametric comparison between the two leagues’ first season reach wise:
From the above data points, clearly, IPL 1 had a larger reach due to which the event saw a greater commercial success. As many as 85 international players participated in the first season of IPL apart from the Indian cricketers. IPL opened opportunities for top Indian brands such as DLF and Hero Honda with respect to event sponsorship. Sony Max bagged the broadcast rights for $102.6 Billion for a period of 10 years which was later resold to other worldwide broadcast partners in the year 2010 when IPL decided to list their shares. PSL, on the other hand, opened opportunities not only for Pakistan and UAE brands such as Habib Bank Limited – title sponsor but also to a few others with global footprint; some of them such as the Qatar Airways and DU Mobile being the first timers to invest in Cricket. This is well spoken in the graph below – Title Sponsorship for IPL season 1 spanning 59 matches was worth $10 million whereas PSL Season 1 spanning just 24 matches bagged $4 million for title sponsorship which is 98.33% attainment in comparison with IPL 1. A closer examination of the financial parameters of the two leagues’ first season will show us that PSL 1 was half as successful as IPL 1 in terms of cumulative money owing to the cumulative double reach of the IPL 1. While on certain parameters such as ticket sales as seen below, we find that PSL did better than IPL 1. IPL 1 had $3 million worth ticket sales across 59 matches which is $63.6 K per match. And PSL 1 had $2 million worth ticket sales for just 24 matches which is $83.3 K per match.
PSL came to be a successful event despite the established high benchmarks by the T20 formats around the world and has a long way to go post the inaugural season. IPL and Big Bash have certainly reached to a larger audience with their first mover advantage and bigger commercial partners. PSL might not have had the IPL’s resources and power, yet has come to be a splendid opportunity to the lengths and breadths of the sport. The first PSL is the beginning of a process. While Pakistan has a lot of catching up to do since the other leagues are almost a decade old and well established now, PSL yet was a fightback to say the sense of grave damage to Pakistan T20 has began to fade out. The success of IPL has inspired the league format itself as the new trend. Other sports such as Hockey, Kabbadi, Tennis, Badminton have found new market potentials with leagues. Not only was IPL season 1 a perfect example where cricket met glamor, but also became a platform for young domestic cricket talents to share space with the biggest names. The event brought immense opportunities and opened a new chapter to the world of sport in India and certain other countries be it the Big Bash or the PSL. These leagues have not only proven to open new windows of opportunities for sportspersons and brought players from different regions and countries together in a single screen space but have also increased the accessibility of these sports to their fans. And not to forget that these leagues are most importantly an encouragement for growing sports talents and aspirations. Eventually when the PSL gets to Pakistan, it could prove to be a great boost for rejuvenating Pakistan cricket.