Cricket Chronicle | Indian Premier League
This year would have been a washout for sport in India if not for the Indian Premier League (IPL). Holding the tournament during the pandemic wasn’t easy, but the Board of Control for Cricket in India and Star Sports managed it. “After almost six months of social distancing, the IPL created a sense of community and togetherness that was sorely lacking,” says Sanjog Gupta, head of sports at Star India.
Barring a few hiccups during the two-week quarantine phase, the IPL went on smoothly thanks to four bio-secure bubbles in Mumbai, Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi. With no spectators allowed, an audio library of crowd cheers and even chants was created to replicate the atmosphere of earlier editions. Virtual reality and artificial intelligence were used to create sets and data visualisation tools. “Fan engagement powered through interactive technology is here to stay,” said Gupta on how he foresees the 13th edition changing live broadcast. “And as technology leaps forward, the living room experience is only going to evolve.”
For 53 days, the tournament dominated the airwaves, so much so that Star Sports saw its viewership soar 23 per cent compared to the 2019 edition. That’s because there was plenty of thrill and drama, with five matches going down to super overs, including two played in a single match. After six fraught months for television, the league was single-handedly responsible for the return of advertising revenue, with Star selling ad inventory for both its channels and Disney+Hotstar even before a match was played. In 2021, Gupta is hopeful that the league will return to its original schedule-April and May-given that the Twenty20 World Cup is scheduled for October.
- IPL beat coronavirus to be the top trending query on Google search
- New systems had to be developed, from bio-secure bubbles to VR content delivery
- The tournament dominated the airwaves for 53 days