How long before Indian cricketers demand their share of the IPL revenue pie?

With IPL media and title rights sold for close to $3 billion this year, Indian players have the right to ask for a slice of the profits they help generate.

Ajit Vijaykumar
by Ajit Vijaykumar
5th September 2017

article:5th September 2017

Indian players don't get a share of the IPL revenue.
Indian players don't get a share of the IPL revenue.

The IPL is always loud and big. Nothing about the league slips under the radar and the TV rights auction, therefore, was always going to generate a din. Big numbers emerged from the sale of IPL media rights, with Star India lapping it all up with a combined bid of $2.55bn (Dh9.7b) for global TV and online rights over the next five years. The TV deal works out to around $8.4m (Dh30m) per game, which is more than what Star India pays to the India board for an international home match – $6.7m (Dh24m).

Both rights are now owned by the same broadcaster. With the difference in valuation, it can be safely deduced that TV bigwigs believe an IPL match is the most valuable product out there.

The India international TV rights will be up for sale again after the current deal with Star India runs out this season. There is speculation that the broadcaster may give up on the India team rights. Even if they don’t, the likelihood is that per match valuation will remain the same or even witness a dip. In the two scenarios, IPL looks set to remain the most coveted commodity. Let’s not forget, the IPL title rights went for $341m (Dh1.2bn) earlier in the year, pushing the value of IPL deals this year close to $3bn (Dh11bn).

The new deal is great for the BCCI and also the franchises. Franchises are expected to be profitable from next season as their annual share of the TV deal and title sponsorship deal – at least Rs 1.5bn (Dh85m) – will be more than the running cost of the team – around Rs 1.2bn (Dh68m) as of now on average. The BCCI earned a profit of Rs 2bn (Dh114m) in 2015-16 from the IPL. With the new media rights deal, that is expected to jump too.

But what about the players? As of now, Indian players only receive the amount franchises bid for them during the auction. In fact, Indian cricketers don’t get a share of any IPL surplus.

The highest paid Indian in IPL is Virat Kohli with a salary of $2.26m (Dh8m). Franchises are bound to spend no more than Rs660m (Dh 37m) on salaries. Sometimes, they pay players less than the amount deducted from their kitty, as is the case with Rohit Sharma and Gautam Gambhir. When you look at the numbers Indian cricket continues to pull in, how long before players start to demand a share of the IPL revenue pie?

Australian cricket doesn’t generate nearly as much revenue as IPL and Indian cricket but that didn’t stop Aussie players from locking horns with the board to ensure the continuation of a revenue sharing model, a dispute that only ended last month with the players securing 27.5 per cent of all the revenue Cricket Australia generates over the next five years.

While Indian cricketers are well compensated compared to the cost of living in the country, it is difficult to overlook that their services generate a gargantuan sum of money unmatched in cricket.

This is not to say Indian cricketers too should go on strike. However, it won’t be surprising if they demand more money for all players. Earlier this year, it was reported Indian players were not entirely happy even after their national Grade A contract was doubled to $300,000 (Dh1m). Australia captain Steven Smith’s annual retainer is $1.2m (Dh4.4m).

So as the mega IPL deal threatens to become a bigger entity than Indian cricket itself, players have the right to look at their own interests and demand more. It is the cricketers who bring in the crowds and eyeballs.



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