SBD/Issue 121/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Indian Premier League Chief Has Global Ambitions For Cricket

 

The Indian Premier League has "drawn thousands of frenzied supporters, attracted millions of dollars of television advertising and handed an elite band of international players previously unheard-of riches" by bringing together "Bollywood, big business" and Twenty20 cricket, according to the WALL STREET JOURNAL's Jonathan Clegg, who writes under the header, "Great Expectations For Cricket." IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi has "shaken cricket from top to bottom since he and his colleagues took control of the Board for Control of Cricket in India" in '05. Modi: "Our objective is to be the single largest sporting league in the world, and we have an opportunity to get there. ... It will take us a few years to get to the level of the top sports leagues in the world -- they've been there a long time and have built huge fan bases -- but we've got numbers on our side." He added, "It's important for us to make sure that the product is available globally. Last year we were averaging 90-odd million eyeballs. But this year, we've got some great new partners, and we're hoping to hit 150 million eyeballs a day. With YouTube, it allows us to go in and make sure that anybody in the world is able to watch the game of cricket. We want to be the largest sporting event in the world." Modi noted that he "expects to stage IPL matches" in the U.S. by next year. Modi: "Obviously the U.S. market is more focused on American sports now, but I think Twenty20, with its three-hour format, lends itself to new markets. It's a very explosive game, there's always action all the time and the fortunes of a team change with every ball. That becomes extremely important from a viewership point of view and also from an excitement point of view" (WSJ.com, 3/8).

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