Essel Group's Indian Cricket League (ICL) is back with a bang as compared to last year's subdued performance. On October 10, the high octane opening ceremony of the tourney in Hyderabad saw a humongous crowd of 20,000 spectators.
Brushing the claims that it's no competition to the BCCI backed Indian Premium League (IPL), ICL has left no stone unturned to make its second season a magnum opus. This year, in the second season of ICL, Essel Group, the owners of ICL, has increased its marketing budget to Rs 60 crore from just Rs 10 crore last year. On October 10, ICL had booked a jacket (dummy cover) on the two leading English dailies - The Times of India and Hindustan Times. ICL has also spent another Rs 10 crore on renovating the Sardar Patel Stadium, Ahmedabad.
However, the revenue that ICL is expecting from sponsorship (both on-ground and on-air) is also quite high this year. In comparison to its last year's revenue of Rs 70 crore, this year the target is Rs 120 crore.
However, when compared to IPL, the revenue figure is still lower. In its first season, IPL had declared a gross income of Rs 645 crore, and Rs 51 crore profit after handing over the dues to franchises and state associations.
ICL has already roped in brands such as Manikchand Oxyrich, Luminous, Telenor in Pakistan and Provogue. Timesjob , Magicbrick, Future Group, LG, Hero Honda, Max NewYork Life Insurance as sponsors.
The air-time ad rates for ICL is estimated to be Rs 1.25 lakh per 10 second which is a 200 per cent increase from last year.
It is learnt that ICL is in talks with a lead telecom service provider for the title sponsorship.
Besides, ICL has also tied-up with gaming portals such as Game2win, ebay, contest2win. ICL has also clinched a deal with domestic flights and is conducting in flight contests in Jet Airways and other airlines.
The second season of ICL - which will end on November 16 - will have 41 matches across four venues - Hyderabad (Andhra Pradesh), Panchkula, Gurgaon (both in Haryana) and Ahmedabad (Gujarat).
Further comparing it with IPL, if the latter had the star value of Shah Rukh Khan and Preity Zinta, the second season of ICL has Rakhi Sawant, leading the cheer-leading squad, ICL Zebras. To up its glamour quotient, the rebel league has roped in other celebrities too. While Mithun Chakraborty is promoting Royal Bengal Tigers, South Indian superstar, Vishnu Manchu is cheering the Hyderabad Heroes; Pakistan's superstar, Mamoor Rana is behind Lahore Badshahs. Actor Aarti Chhabria and cricketer Atul Wasan will host a studio based talk show called Cricket Boom Boom.
The management has decided to profile each new player, to build an element of familiarity for the audience, when it watches the players on the field. The new initiative focuses on 'Cricket Hai Meri Life' and depicts the real life stories of ICL's players.
By bagging Bangladesh players in its kitty, the league is trying to make the competition more intense. Dhaka Warriors, to be led by former Bangladesh captain Habibul Bashar, will be the ninth city-based team this season. "Last season saw the induction of Lahore Badshahs, who played a pivotal role in taking domestic Indian cricket to an unprecedented level. This time Dhaka Warriors will do the same," informs Patel.
Aiming at more than 100 million viewers across four continents, ZEE has partnered with several broadcasters. While Zee Sports will telecast the matches live in Hindi, Ten Sports will broadcast them in English. BTV and ATN Bangla will telecast matches in Bangladesh, Gateway in North Africa, Telkom-Malysia and Astro in Malaysia, Fox Sports in Australia, ZEE Music in UK, ZEE TV in Africa, ZEE Sports in USA, Ten Sports in Pakistan and Middle East and Caribbean Media Corporation in West Indies, and Caribbean Islands.
The way ICL is planning its each and every move, the tourney promises to be an interesting event, provided the players put up an equally interesting show.