#360debate: Has the IPL lost its magic?

This week's #360debate sees Sport360's Barny Read and Joy Chakravarty weigh-up the current levels of interest in the IPL, with crowds and rating figures dramatically down this year for the world's leading T20 competition.

Sport360 staff
by Sport360 staff
9th May 2016

article:9th May 2016

Half-empty: Eden Gardens -pre-game on Sunday evening.
Half-empty: Eden Gardens -pre-game on Sunday evening.

The IPL is fast approaching its conclusion this year, but things have been a little different.

In comparison with recent years, crowds and excitement have been down and there is a feeling that the tournament has been running flat following straight on from the ICC World T20.

Today’s #360debate asks: Has the IPL lost its magic?

Barny Read, Online Deputy Editor, says YES

By the time the IPL draws to a close on May 29, the tournament will have played out over 50 days of near non-stop action across 60 matches of IPL 9.

If you’re not sick of the whole thing by then you are likely one of two people; either a top international cricketer with a bulging wallet or a member of the BCCI with an even more burdensome purse.

Yes, there will be the fans that simply cannot get enough T20 cricket but as you can see from dwindling crowds at this year’s edition, those numbers are growing fewer.

It must be said that this tournament has come fresh on the back of the World T20 in India which has left the country positively drowning in Twenty20 cricket over the past three months.

Organisers would have been praying that the IPL’s draw would be big enough to harvest enough of a following amid the World T20 hangover but it hasn’t had such success.

The new TV graphics – a kind of Terminator attempt at cool – feel as apocalyptic as Arnie’s franchise.

The general public have far greater concerns right now and the new TV graphics – a kind of Terminator attempt at cool – feel as apocalyptic as Arnie’s franchise. On the pitch, this year’s tournament has been bereft of unpredictability – a fatal flaw for franchise cricket.

Although Virat Kohli’s habitual brilliance is something that you can never grow tired of seeing, each match has become so routine it’s becoming mundane.

The IPL seems to have followed a trend this year. Of the 37 opening matches this season, the winning captain at the toss has opted to bowl first on 32 occasions. And the side winning the toss and electing to field has lost only six times. Quite simply, if you win the toss and bowl, you will pick up two points often enough to send you into the playoffs.

As a spectator, this renders the majority of matches entirely useless unless the man on the right side of the coin flip goes against the grain and bats.

Drilled into our ears during the World T20 was how “fickle” T20 cricket is and how anyone can win on their day, but not at this IPL. No wonder people are switching off and nine years down the line the IPL is in drastic need of a facelift.

Joy Chakravarty, Regional Editor, says NO

The dwindling attendance at the matches and television ratings going down would suggest the Indian Premier League has lost its charm in 2016.

Half-filled stadiums and average ratings of 3.0 is a far cry from the usual fare of raucous and energetic full-house crowds, and consistent ratings in the region of 4.5 even last year.

While these are two massive indicators of popularity of the tournament, I feel this is just a result of viewer fatigue setting in after what has been one Twenty20 match after another for the Indian team from the beginning of the year.

Within a week of the World T20 Cup, which was hosted by India, getting over, the ninth season of the IPL kicked in. Because of the World T20 Cup, the build-up of IPL9 hasn’t been that great. Most IPL sponsors thought it would be a waste of money to undergo marketing activities when the premier ICC event was going on.

The Indian media, which plays a massive role in ramping up the interest level, was more busy with the exploits of the Darren Sammy-led West Indies and the failure of the Indian national team.

It’s not as if the games have been bereft of excitement. The first few matches were one-sided, but that is expected as some teams struggle to find a balance.

There are a few other factors too. The suspension of a team like Chennai Super Kings, which was the most followed team in the IPL given their immense success in the tournament over the years, certainly did not help.

And the last-minute shifting of the matches from the home grounds of two franchisees – Mumbai and Pune – because of court orders, were also a distraction.

The fact that established teams like Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore have struggled this year, has also not gone down well with viewers. But as Leicester City proved in the Premier League this year, the balance of power eventually shifts in every sport.

In next year’s IPL, there will be more supporters of teams like Delhi Daredevils and Sunrisers Hyderabad.

It’s not as if the games have been bereft of excitement. The first few matches were one-sided, but that is expected as some teams struggle to find a balance.

I’m sure as we move towards the decisive stage, fans will get excited and the IPL will prove it’s alive and kicking.