IPL can’t go for a toss on Covid fears, say cricket fans

Amrita Nair-Ghaswalla Mumbai | Updated on March 30, 2020 Published on March 30, 2020

Hansa Research survey participants want IPL held once lockdown ends

Though the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on the global sporting calendar, cricket fans in India will have none of it, with Indian Premier League (IPL) fans eager that the event take place in its full glory and immediately after the lockdown ends on April 15. A small section of the fans surveyed were actually keen that IPL should take place on the scheduled date, an exclusively shared study has revealed.

The rising instances of locally-detected coronavirus cases led the Board of Cricket Control India (BCCI) to tentatively postpone the cricketing tournament from the scheduled March 29, 2020, to post April 15. With the national lockdown till April 15, there is uncertainty whether the IPL will be played at all.

This has disappointed several cricket fans in India, shows the study by consumer insights company Hansa Research. The study was conducted during March 18-20, and covered 34 cities pan India, particularly tier-I and tier-II cities.

Only 7 per cent of those surveyed felt that the IPL should be cancelled at this time.

A lot at stake

Though awareness of the seriousness of the issue was almost universal, with an overwhelming majority (91 per cent) of participants in the survey acknowledging the novel coronavirus as a serious issue, a few of the fans (10 per cent) felt the implications might be exaggerated.

“IPL is not just a sporting event in India, it’s a festival. Nobody likes their festivals to be curtailed. They want it in the entirety,” V Sudarshan, CMO and SVP at Hansa Research Group, told BusinessLine. “We were surprised that 90 per cent of the fans feel that the IPL should happen in its full course, and that ‘not at all’ is not an option,” he adds.

Sudarshan points out that there is a lot at stake for the series to continue. “There is a lot of money on the table for the BCCI, the IPL governing committee, IPL sponsors and the advertisers who are looking at this as a huge built-up platform,” despite the current Covid-19 issue being the most critical agenda on most people’s minds.

Another analysis by research agency Duff & Phelps had similarly downgraded the IPL's valuation. If the annual sporting event gets cancelled this year due to the coronavirus outbreak, the value of the IPL ecosystem is expected to fall 10-15 per cent between $700 million and $1,000 million, according to the Duff & Phelps analysis.

Last year, the agency had valued the IPL ecosystem at $6.8 billion.

Caution and passion

Despite the IPL fans’ overwhelming need to have the sporting entertainment, 90 per cent of Hansa Research's sample said they did not want the event to start without the issue being resolved completely. The study stated these numbers showcased Indian fans’ sensibility of putting the crisis ahead of the sporting entertainment.

The maximum fans are willing to accept is the unavailability of foreign players, with only a few (20 per cent) claiming they would not watch IPL if it is played without the participation of foreign players.

IPL fans are unwilling to let go of their passion. If at all the tournament has to be postponed, the fans surveyed said it should still be played out over the original schedule of seven weeks. As a last resort, if the event has to be curtailed, fans said it should be a reduction in the number of days, and not fewer matches.

Incidentally, major sports leagues across the world, including EPL, NBA, Champions League and cricket tournaments, stand suspended or cancelled, with governments scrambling to contain the coronavirus.

Published on March 30, 2020

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