Will WPL Provide Return on Investment?

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On Saturday, footwear giant Puma tweeted a video of a cricketer taking guard and asked people to guess the identity of their ‘newest ambassador’.

Signing one of the biggest female stars makes sense with the Women’s Premier League (WPL) around the comer. Big money was spent recently-Rs 5,651 crore – to buy broadcast and franchise rights for the league and its five teams. (File)

Of the thousands of responses, 80 percent named a male cricketer, the company revealed on Monday when they announced the tie-up with India’s all-format captain Harmanpreet Kaur.Signing one of the biggest female stars makes sense with the Women’s Premier League (WPL) around the corner. Big money was spent recently —Rs 5,651 crore — to buy broadcast and franchise rights for the league and its five teams.Yet the replies to the ‘guess who’ question in the clever marketing promo alluded to the plain fact that despite her growing popularity, Harmanpreet still plays cricket in the shadows of the Virat Kohlis and Rohit Sharma.

Packaging the WPL as a women’s version of the hugely-popular Indian Premier League (IPL) is no guarantee that fans, with their loyalties in the men’s game, will watch it at a stadium or their homes.

Like every start-up, the WPL has its unknowns.

With a separate window before the IPL, it will have to stand on its own feet.Viacom18 is paying the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) Rs 7.09 crore per WPL game, a fraction compared to what they shell out for digital rights of an IPL game. The five-year WPL deal cost Viacom18 Rs 951 crore, which according to a veteran broadcaster, is a punt.

If I was still in the broadcasting business, I would have said that the WPL is a good boat to miss, because if it succeeds, it does not change the universe. If it fails, it will stretch your balance sheet. The WPL is not a must-have thing. It will get one-fourth or one-fifth of the attention of the men’s game,” Harish Thawani, the founder of Nimbus Sport, the former rights-holders for Indian cricket, said. “But is it going to completely flop? My answer is ‘no’. But is it going to become one of those things to look forward to like the men’s IPL?”

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