New Delhi, September 8: Indian Premier League is expecting even higher returns in the years ahead after striking a bumper $2.55 billion broadcast deal to become one of the world's richest sports competitions.
IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla believes there is plenty more growth to come for the glitzy Twenty20 cricket league, whose heady success comes despite its history of corruption scandals.
This week Star India beat rival bids from Facebook, Sony and India's Airtel to land the IPL's TV and digital rights over five years from 2018.
The deal, a four-fold increase after Sony paid $1.2 billion for broadcast rights over 10 years in 2008, puts the IPL on a similar level to football's English Premier League, a bellwether for global sports marketing.
The eight-week IPL's 60 games are now valued at roughly $8.5 million each, not far off the estimated $9.6 million per Premier League match -- and well over the $6.2 million price tag attached to home internationals in India.
Shukla said he wasn't surprised at the IPL's new earning power.
"Every year IPL is growing in terms of reach, in terms of value and impact. In 10 years it has gone up manyfold and I hope in future also the enhancement will keep on happening," Shukla told AFP.
"Since the value of property has seen signficant gains with each passing year so in future also it will keep on increasing," he added.
The IPL has spawned copycat leagues in Australia, Pakistan and elsewhere, and has already swelled the bank accounts of scores of players, making domestic T20 a lucrative alternative to the international game.
India captain Virat Kohli was the best-paid player at this year's IPL, earning $2.26 million with Royal Challengers Bangalore, while the most expensive foreigner was England's Ben Stokes on $2.16 million.
Earning hundreds of thousands of dollars a week -- albeit for only two months -- is usually the preserve of footballers and NBA players, but IPL cricketers can expect a step-change in their wages next year.