As the Indian Premier League (IPL) enters its tenth year, the focus is on going digital. With telecom service providers rolling-out 4G services, an entirely new set of players—Facebook, Twitter, Amazon and Reliance Jio—are seeking to acquire digital rights of the IPL for the five-year period starting 2017. Their interest in the IPL is a clear indication that how Indians watch IPL matches in the future will change. The push to digital was quite evident in 2016 when fans watched 140 million videos on the Facebook pages of the IPL and the eight teams, apart from making 360 million posts, comments and likes on Facebook. Add to that another 10.6 million tweets, and the IPL is the biggest social media event over the seven weeks in which it plays out. So, expect live content, streaming of behind-the-scenes action, Q&A with players and live tweets by players on social media platforms over the next few years.
These matches could be live-streamed by Facebook, apart from being part of the Amazon Prime offering. Given there are millions of IPL fans scattered across time zones, it is a business opportunity waiting to be tapped. As mobile broadband speeds increase with the spread of 4G, expect more people to watch matches on the move—be it on phones or tablets. It is early days yet, but over time, this could lead to reduced advertising revenues for TV channels. What’s clear is that competition for delivering IPL content is going to be intense.