The second edition of Pakistan Super League (PSL) begins today in Dubai with Islamabad United taking on Peshawar Zalmi in the opening match.
The five-team competition has several star players, including Chris Gayle, Brendon McCullum, Shane Watson and Jason Roy will be seen in action. Matches will be held at Dubai and Sharjah while the finals will be held in Lahore.
But even though PSL is in its second season, major broadcasters are not lining up before PSL. Across key cricket markets of India, England, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and West Indies no major broadcasters have been signed up. PSL plans to stream live content for these markets, liming the reach of the league.
PSL’s India connection, in particular, is missing at a time when global T20 properties are seriously considering India, in different ways, as a target market for their T20 leagues.
KFC Big Bash League (BBL) had tied up with Star Sports for a special Hindi commentary for the league. The rights for BBL were sold to Star Sports so that the league could reach out to the 600 million Hindi speaking audiences.
Cricket South Africa (CSA) has announced a new league to be launched at the end of 2017. It advertised in Indian and global newspapers, looking for investors. CSA is believed to be in touch with potential Indian investors for the league.
South Africa is not the first country looking for Indian companies to invest in cricket. One of the teams in the Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL), T&T Red Steel, was bought over by KKR, part-owned by film star Shah Rukh Khan. There have been recent reports that CPL is in talks with an Indian investor to buy out the league.
Tapping Indian audience
According to data from Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) data, the ninth edition of IPL had a cumulative reach across 361 million viewers. Clearly, milking India’s cricket crazy fan is key to T20 success. Little wonder BBL has been so keen to expand in India. Sony has the rights for CPL matches for the Indian markets. But if Indian cricket fans want to watch PSL, streaming it online is the only option for them, drying up its market in India.
IPL’s winners’ purse is very liberal compared to other leagues. While BBL is lagging behind, it promises to make up for the next edition of the league with a 25 per cent jump for the winning team. PSL stared with a purse of $500,000 for the winner in the first year and there are reports of a 40 per cent jump for this year.
T20 leagues are in vogue and every cricket board wants to be part of the action. It appeals to the youth, is fast-paced and manages to draw the crowds and has the potential to spread beyond the traditional cricket following audience.