Mumbai: Given the additional teams joining the competition (next year) and the re-auctioning of players, there will be a huge incentive for players to perform in season 3 to maximize their earning potential,” says Manoj Badale, chairman and co-founder of Rajasthan Royals. The franchise is open to new partnerships, he says in an interview. Edited excerpts:
How is this season critical, given that IPL (Indian Premier League) is returning to India?
It is an important season, but every season has its own criticality. The first was the launch, the second was in South Africa, and the huge excitement around the third season is that it is back in India—and we have a huge opportunity to show that India can stage global sporting events. Our players are most excited about playing in front of Indian fans, who cannot be matched in terms of their passion for the game...we will have more teams next year, which will bring multiple new dimensions to the tournament—and ultimately even tougher competition.
Investors welcome: Manoj Badale, chairman, co-founder of the team.
What would it mean to have two more teams from the next season?
Given the additional teams joining the competition and the re-auctioning of players, there will be a huge incentive for players to perform in season 3 to maximize their earning potential. For the existing teams, I am not sure that it really changes anything—everyone is going to compete as hard as they can to win.
The business of IPL will definitely grow with more teams joining the tournament. IPL 4 will open doors for more players across the world, and it will further spread the tournament’s influence. In terms of its economic impact, we expect that to be positive, given the increase in the television and sponsorship income from which franchises share.
With nearly 100 matches in season 4 over 45 days, will it lead to spectator fatigue?
We don’t think so, but it is possible. The challenge for IPL, which they have consistently met, is to keep innovating the product and keep focusing on the convergence of cricket with entertainment. The viewer’s response to IPL has been overwhelming on television, as it has set new benchmarks of cricket viewing and achieved record TRPs (television rating points) across the globe.
What are your plans for investments or diluting holdings?
If there are investors that can add strategic value, then we would always welcome them into the family.
The first season created a whole new audience, essentially housewives, etc. How do you plan to engage with and sustain this audience?
We have planned multiple marketing programmes to connect with our fans in Rajasthan, Gujarat and (the) rest of India. Recently, we launched a number of marketing initiatives with our partners UltraTech, Moov, among others. We are working closely with all our partners to launch below-the-line activities as a build-up to IPL season 3. Shilpa (Shetty, actor and co-owner of Rajasthan Royals) has also been an integral part of all our campaigns so far and will continue to be so. Now that IPL is back in India, we wanted our fans to have a royal experience and have introduced our hospitality programme called ‘Blue Carpet’.
This is the fourth in a series of interviews of IPL team owners and executives. On Tuesday: Rakesh Singh, head, marketing, of Chennai Super Kings.