It’s hard to imagine cricket’s popularity increasing. The sport may not be the nation’s official sport, but it’s the undisputed number one as far as the public is concerned. To put it into perspective, a BARC study in 2018 reported that cricket attracts 93% of the country’s entire sporting viewership.
Therefore, it’s easy to assume that the game doesn’t have much more growth left. However, cricket is currently experiencing a significant upsurge in India that is making the sport more powerful, at home and abroad.
The IPL and Foreign Cricket Competitions
When the Indian Premier League was launched, it pretty much became a sensation overnight. Whether people were for or against the tournament, it was impossible to argue against the brand. Although you may expect the viewing figures to drop off the older the competition gets, the 2020 statistics show that this isn’t the case. The 2020 season attracted a record audience 12 years later than when it was formed.
As a result, cricketing nations around the world are attempting to secure a slice of the action by creating T20 formats similar to the IPL. The Big Bash in Australia is one of the most successful. However, it’s The Hundred in the UK, where teams made up of global superstars have 100 balls to score as many runs as possible, which may be the IPL’s biggest rival. Still, it’s worth noting that the competition could be what the Indian Premier League needs to evolve and push the envelope of Indian cricket.
There are two factors to consider. Firstly, Indians are fiercely patriotic and will protect their domestic leagues. So, it would be surprising if the audience for the IPL suddenly reduced due to the introduction of overseas leagues. Secondly, the exposure should whet the appetite of the general public. After watching The Hundred or the Big Bash, the country will be more excited than ever to see their idols on TV or in the flesh.
The Role of Gambling
India may have a complicated relationship with betting, yet that doesn’t prevent Indians from placing wagers on a host of verticals. In 2019, for instance, the industry in India was valued at over £500 million. By 2024, it is projected to reach a value of £2.45 billion since 40% of the country’s 430 million smartphone users gamble.
What’s interesting is the relationship between wagering and cricket. Nearly 90% of sports betting wagers in India are directed at cricket, especially the IPL and Test matches. With offshore operators like Bet365 having a considerable presence in the subcontinent, the demand for cricket markets is growing larger each day. If you analyse a Bet365 review of the company’s offerings in India, for instance, you’ll notice that the number of markets means the industry will invariably affect the growth of the sport. This is because a single Test Match involving India has as many as 40 markets. The IPL isn’t far behind with more than 30, including outright bets such as the overall winner, the Purple Cap winner, and the Orange Cap winner.
As the potential of the Indian gambling sector turns into a reality, the demand for cricket betting markets will have many knock-on effects. The main one will be a rise in viewers of matches, regardless of the format.
India in the Shop Window
The India National Team will always challenge the top sides for global dominance. The sport is too entrenched in popular culture not to develop players capable of becoming world-beaters. Virat Kohli is a prime example. After Sachin Tendulkar retired, the nation needed a lynchpin, and Kohli took up the mantle, developing into one of the greatest players ever.
The process is supercharged when the national side is performing at a high level. Currently, it’s possible that India under Kohli is the best cricket-playing nation across all formats. After beating Australia and England away from home, the only blot on the Test Match squad’s record is getting beat by New Zealand in the final of the Test Match Championship final. The white-ball setup also looks strong, considering the depth of the ODI and T20 sides, and that the latter will be held in India at the end of the year.
Not only is India winning series they usually lose, but the team is doing it by selecting exciting cricketers that ensure people’s eyes are glued to their TV screens. As long as the points made in this post continue, there’s no reason why the sport won’t appeal to an even bigger audience.