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The World\'s Hottest Sports League

Published on: Saturday, 29th August 2009 07:38 AM     By      Administrator

Two years ago, IPL cricket was a pipe dream. Now it's the fastest-appreciating sports business on Earth.

The season opener was mere moments away when the Washington Redskins cheerleaders marched to mid-field to perform a routine that brought the crowd--draped in red and yellow team colors--to its feet.

No, it wasn't a late-summer night at Maryland's FedEx Field, but rather a sweltering April evening in Bangalore's Chinnaswamy Stadium and the inaugural match of the Indian Premier League (IPL), cricket's first foray, from a business prospective, into the major leagues.

The 2008 match between the Royal Challengers Bangalore (the team's owner, Vijay Mallya's United Breweries, hired the cheerleaders for four games) and the Kolkata Knight Riders (co-owned by Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan) was seen by 40,000 spectators, 14.4 million TV viewers in India and millions more watching on the eight networks that syndicated coverage across the globe.

Welcome to the hottest sports league in the world.

Our first round-up of the IPL's finances shows the league generated $209 million in revenue in its second season, for an aggregate operating profit (earnings before interest, taxes and depreciation) of $89 million. The average franchise is worth $67 million, a 31% increase in just one year. The Rajasthan Royals, winners of the league's first championship, has risen in value by 71%. This despite the uncertainty and logistical headaches caused by moving this year's entire 59-game slate, including the final, to South Africa with only three weeks' notice. (After terror incidents, the Indian government was anxious about providing security as parliamentary elections coincided with the month-long season.)

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