Cricket is still referred to as the gentleman’s game without sarcasm, and women’s cricket has its terms. When women step out to bat and bowl, the game is put on the back burner in terms of salary, finance, and visibility. The first international women’s Test was played in 1934, around 58 years after the men’s match. When the Indian cricket board announced equal pay for male and female cricketers, the winds of change started to blow. The Women’s Premier League (WPL) is currently making significant progress in leveling the playing field for female athletes.
The CEO of the WPL franchise Delhi Capitals, Dhiraj Malhotra, claims that it would accomplish for women’s cricket what the Indian Premier League (IPL) did for men. The WPL is a fantastic platform for the development of women’s cricket, according to Mumbai Indians captain Harmanpreet Kaur. She added that the girls will have the chance to learn, get a lot of experience, and boost their self-confidence.
On March 4, the first WPL game featured Gujarat Giants versus Kaur’s Mumbai Indians. The cricket league will create trends in several different ways. After the popularity of the Pro Kabaddi League for men, India may soon see the creation of a women’s kabaddi league.
The WPL has seen significant financial growth and it is still a small portion of what the men’s league earns. Adani Sportsline for Gujarat Giants, Reliance’s Indian-winning Sports for Mumbai Indians, Diageo’s Royal Challengers Sports for Royal Challengers Bangalore, JSW-GMR Cricket for Delhi Capitals, and Capri Global Holdings for UP Warriorz were a few of the well-known bidders for the five franchises. For the five franchises, a total of Rs 4,670 crore was offered.
The league is the subject of high sporting and commercial expectations. Women’s cricket will become the fastest-growing sport, and the Women’s Premier League will be a game-changer for India, predicts Jhulan Goswami, bowling coach, and team mentor for the Mumbai Indians.
The WPL “has the potential to be one of the top cricket leagues in the world,” according to Anil Jayaraj, CEO of Viacom18 Sports, which has obtained media rights to the league. Free streaming of games and commentary in the Indian language has the potential to significantly increase viewership.
Santosh N., the managing partner at D.P. Advisory, warns franchisees that the early years will be difficult. The franchisee’s share of the central revenue pool is likely to be in the Rs 30-35 crore range. When we consider franchisee sponsorship of Rs 15-20 crore, we are only seeing a topline of Rs 50-60 crore in the first few years. Franchisees are not anticipated to be profitable anytime soon, given the prices at which teams have been purchased as well as additional costs like salaries and logistics.
He believes that for WPL to be profitable, the future auction of its media rights should follow the same trajectory as IPL’s. “Organizers must ensure that the league is effectively endorsed and that matches are accessible to fans and audiences.”
Franchisees are aware that it will take time. “Short-term gains are not our focus. Rajesh V. Menon, CEO and director of the board of Royal Challengers Sports, claims that the organization has established long-term objectives and built a team that its supporters can quickly identify with. According to him, the WPL solution is future-proof. In the future, it will be a model that generates income.
The WPL’s presenting sponsor is Tata. Dream11, Ceat, and Amul are additional central sponsors. WPL is a new venue for businesses to capitalize on India’s growing interest in women’s cricket. Cricket players Smriti Mandhana and Harmanpreet Kaur collectively promote more than 20 brands, including Puma, ICICI Bank, and Hyundai.
Top female cricketers make between Rs 1 and Rs 2 crore for every sponsorship agreement, according to market estimates. The anticipated annual salary for cricketers in the tier below them is between Rs 25 and Rs 80 lakh. Top male cricketers reportedly get between Rs 7 and Rs 10 crore each sponsorship, while those in the tier below them make between Rs 5 and Rs 7 crore.
Hyundai Motor India’s AVP & group head of marketing, Virat Khullar, states, “We were among the first businesses to promote women cricketers in 2021. Puma, a company historically linked to women’s boxing, sees WPL as a long-term commitment. According to Abhishek Ganguly, Director of Puma India and Southeast Asia, women’s cricket, racket sports, and track & field, all have significant growth potential.
The WPL may be the ideal setting for money and runs to flow, boosting the sport’s reputation as the (gentle) women’s game. The opportunity to connect with female customers through women’s leagues and sports has been noticed by sponsors and advertisers. These successful millennials and Gen Z sports celebrities with a clean image have become an easy choice as brands target the young, social media-savvy generation. Similar to PV Sindhu, who has a portfolio of more than ten brand sponsorships, including Bridgestone India, Asian Paints, A23 Games, and Bank of Baroda.
Modern female cricketers like Smriti Mandhana and Harmanpreet Kaur have added prestigious companies like Hyundai, ICICI Bank, and Puma to their roster of endorsements, which currently stands at over 20. “With the introduction of professional leagues, sports like cricket and badminton have gained popularity in India. Thus, companies are preferring to work with individuals who have established names in the nation and a sizable fan base”, according to Aviral Jain, Managing Director of Kroll (formerly Duff & Phelps).
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