In terms of the cricket, the seventeenth edition of the India Premier League (IPL) may have ended in a whimper with the Kolkata Knight Riders beating Sun Risers Hyderabad with nine overs to spare. But the truth is that the Board of Control for Cricket’s (BCCI) biggest brand shines brighter than ever from a brand and commercial perspective.

The commercial model is straightforward: the BCCI auctions digital and broadcast rights to a couple of entities, who in turn make their returns from sponsorship and advertising.

The teams get a share of the BCCI’s revenues, while they fork out huge sums to ‘buy’ their players. IPL’s commercial success is borne out by its huge stadium and virtual viewership, which has worked well for the gravy train of live streamers, telecasters and advertisers.

Viacom 18 bagged digital rights to stream matches for ₹23,758 crore over 2023-27. It lined up 18 sponsors and 250 advertisers. These include Dream11, Tata Motors, PayZapp by HDFC Bank, SBI, Thums Up, Britannia, Pepsi, Jindal Steel, Google and Parle Products.

The Tata Group bagged the title sponsorship till 2028, for which the group has paid BCCI ₹2,500 crore. Disney Star, that owns the Star Sports network, bagged the TV broadcast rights for 2023-27, for which it paid ₹23,575 crore.

Star Sports too lined up star-studded advertisers. Disney Star announced a couple of weeks ago that the TV viewership for the first 51 IPL matches (out of a total of 74) was a record 510 million. Franchises have built up a committed fan-base over the years. During the IPL, a mini-economy of small vendors comes into being.

IPL has not only changed domestic cricket, spawning various local and State level T20 leagues, it has also served as a template for T20 leagues around the world – Big Bash (both men and women) in Australia, South Africa’s SA20 league, West Indies’ Caribbean Premier League, Pakistan Super League, Bangladesh Premier League, Sri Lanka (Lanka Premier League) and even US’ Major League Cricket.

The BCCI has also been conducting the Women’s Premier League, which offers enormous potential in unearthing talent.

The league has opened up an alternative career path for young Indian cricketers, who are talented but unable to able to break into the national team. Here, the parallel with European football leagues is striking. IPL has given these young cricketers a chance to rub shoulders with the best in the world and also benefit from top coaching talent, apart from the financial payoffs at the auctions.

It has also served as a template for franchise-based leagues in other sports in India – football (ISL), badminton (Premier Badminton League), volleyball (Prime Volleyball League), table tennis (UTT) and the hugely popular Pro Kabaddi league which has been going on for 10 seasons now.

Corporate-backed leagues have made the pursuit of a career in a range of sports a viable proposition. They are part of a set-up where private funds into coaching and talent spotting have lifted India’s performance across sports. Yet, the global experience suggests that they could do with more financial transparency.