Which is the most popular team in IPL?
It is not rocket science to realize that the Indian Premier League is the most popular club sporting league in cricket, and even among other sports as well. But the tricky part is to know the most popular team in the IPL. The league, at the time of writing, has been through 13 successful seasons, although some of them have been marred with controversies, and some others have been split into two due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But at large, the sponsors, franchise owners, and the players are happy with the money that’s spinning within the league.
Factors of Popularity
The main factor that contributes to the popularity of the team is not just winning. It includes other factors too such as the overall performance of the team, the home market size, the amount of advertising they do, and their overall investment in marketing. These factors alone do not contribute to the team’s popularity, however, and the absence of any one of these for any team also does not make them unpopular per se.
To support the statement that winning the IPL does not always mean the team is more popular, Jasal Shah – the head of Velocity VR pinpointed the example of RCB who have not been getting their elusive title, yet they are among the top teams in the popularity chart. Of course, the size of the home market is a big determiner to popularity, for instance, Rajasthan and Punjab teams are always going to have a smaller fan base compared to the team from the metros – Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, etc.
According to Duff and Phelps, franchises spend a minimum of 5% and a maximum of 15%, on average for their promotions and marketing. Some teams of course have been doing it better than the others. The best example for this is CSK, who have a big name in their team in the form of MS Dhoni and their ‘Whistle Podu’ campaign has seen the team’s name penetrate even the remote villages of Tamil Nadu.
Another important contributor to marketing and investment is having a celebrity endorse a club. That appeals to the fanbase of the celebrity who in turn seem to support the franchise. But of course, if the team’s popularity is based on the star power, it can come down if the celebrity is involved in some controversy.
Another factor that boosts marketing and promotional efforts is having Indian or foreign star players who are loved by the majority. In the case of Mumbai Indians, it has always been Sachin Tendulkar who is easily the most famed cricketer ever in India. For the RCB, AB De Villiers has provided so much entertainment and involvement with the franchise that many people still support the team based in Bengaluru because of him.
Comparison of TV Viewership of Franchises over the Years
Just for reference, the IPL had its inaugural season in 2008, and it started with the historic innings of 158* by Brendon McCullum. Although television ratings are not the most accurate way to gauge a franchise’s popularity, they give a good idea of what team the audience is more interested in. In the first three years – Kolkata Knight Riders and Rajasthan Royals have got the highest television ratings. For KKR, it could have been Shah Rukh Khan, Ganguly, and the Eden Gardens and of course, the way they kickstarted the IPL. Also, note that Kolkata was and is still the only team from East India. In the case of Rajasthan Royals, it could have been Shane Warne and the Bollywood fame of Shilpa Shetty who purchased a stake in the team in 2009.
Over the next three years, until 2015, Kolkata continued to have high TV ratings even after they had released Ganguly. However, Mumbai Indians began catching up with them in viewer interest. Kolkata continued to retain interest mainly because of their title victory in 2012 and 2014. Mumbai, of course, because of their aggressive playing style and Sachin Tendulkar. Kings XI Punjab was not far behind, led by the aggressive Virender Sehwag, and also had the attacking Glenn Maxwell in their roster. Chennai Super Kings continued to be consistent in TV ratings and always were among the top due to Dhoni being the captain. It only helped them, even more, when India won the T20 world cup in 2007, and the 50-over world cup in 2011 under Shoni’s captaincy.
According to Duff and Phelps, the valuation of KKR was highest after the first eight seasons, followed by Mumbai and then Chennai. Over the next few years, until 2019, the rise of Kohli brought RCB among the top teams in terms of viewership as well. Their rise was also helped by the ban of Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings for two years due to the spot-fixing and betting scandals. According to the data by the Broadcast Audience Research Council of India, Mumbai Indians had the highest impressions per league in 2016 (18.5 million), slightly more than Royal Challengers Bangalore (18.3 million) and followed by Kolkata Knight Riders (16.5 million). The rise of RCB has been mainly due to Kohli who had taken the test captaincy of India at that time and had also risen in the rankings for best batsmen in the world at that time (also now).
In 2017, Mumbai Indians won their third title, and although RCB played quite badly in the league, their fans continued to be loyal and it remained one of the most active fan bases on social media. Their brand valuation increased to $88 million. A 31% jump from the previous year.
It was also in 2017, that the social media activity around IPL began to boom. In the beginning, Kolkata Knight Riders led with more combined followers across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
In 2018, and 2019, the popularity was dominated by Chennai Super Kings. In their return to the league, they won the 2018 title and in the process also had the most number of impressions per team in the league at 26.1 million per match. Mumbai was second now, at 24.9 million impressions per match. The matches between Chennai and Mumbai were the most viewed and anticipated in the league. In 2019, the popularity of CSK rose, even more, when they drew 30.1 million impressions per match, according to the data by BARC. At this time, when the IPL was available to view on Hotstar, Mumbai Indians just edged Chennai on the online platform with a total reach of 138.2 million compared to Chennai’s 138.1 million.
Velocity MR conducted a study after the 2019 IPL and calculated impact scores for each franchise, which were based on viewership, brand recall, national appeal, and home-city appeal. Super Kings led this chart with an impact score of 4.83 and Mumbai came second with 3.27. Therefore, it was clear that Chennai and Mumbai had been leading the popularity charts now.
Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians are easily the most popular teams in the IPL during the current time, and Super Kings are marginally ahead thanks to MS Dhoni, their consistency, and their strong marketing and promotional efforts. However, Kolkata had dominated the charts for a long, and they can also claim to be one of the most popular teams in the IPL.
Also Read:- Most Fan Following Team In IPL