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Women's Cricket

Why should we invest in Women's cricket?

With the Women's T20 Challenge underway, there have been a few brands that stepped in last moment but the league is still far from being close to anything resembling the IPL.

Indian womens cricket team (Source: BCCI Women)
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Indian women's cricket team (Source: BCCI Women)

By

Enakshi Rajvanshi

Updated: 2022-05-26T16:01:17+05:30

Women's cricket in India has one huge advantage over most other countries: Cricket is already our No.1 sport. There are close to 12.4 Crore cricket fans in India which represent 91% of the total sports fans as per a report by Ormax Media

Is women's cricket in India currently marketable?

Despite the majority of the population following cricket and the sport being played in every nook and corner of the country, we are sitting on an untapped gold mine when it comes to women's cricket - be it as a sport in itself or as an investable entity for brands

With the Women's T20 Challenge underway, there have been a few brands that stepped in last moment but the league is still far from being close to anything resembling the IPL.

Similar to its previous editions, BCCI has crammed the four matches between the three teams in the middle of the men's IPL. However, what was even more troubling is that one of the teams was scheduled to play two matches in a gap of fewer than 16 hours. Harmanpreet Kaur's Supernovas faced Trailblazers on the evening of May 23, and then again took the field against Velocity on May 24 at 3.30 PM — that too in the searing Pune heat.

Although the opening day of the Women's T20 Challenge fetched decent viewership numbers because of evening timing and no-IPL action, the second day turned out to be a drastic show with barely 2 lakh people watching the afternoon match. It was the day for IPL Playoffs and the traction for the women's game, therefore, took a hit, what with it taking place on a Tuesday (weekday) afternoon as well.




But this dismal attitude isn't a rare sight for a women's cricket fan in India. Only a few months back, right before the 2022 Women's World Cup, India's top cricketers - Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma did a "paid partnership" video to wish them luck. The richest of the richest make money by showing their support to the women playing the same sport for the country! In the caption of the video posted by Kohli, which called for cricket fans to cheer for the Women In Blue, and at the bottom of Rohit's story, was a hashtag - all of two letters, but of immense importance - #ad. Below their profile names were those two revolutionary words of social media marketing - Paid Partnership.

Now, the important question. In spite of all this, why are we predicting women's cricket will grow to prove its commercial worth?

BCCI announced a full-fledged Women's IPL with six teams to start next year. This could be a game-changer, and if the administration could align the teams with existing franchises, facilities, branding, fan loyalty could be shared.

Another important aspect - is acceptance by the masses. Improved performances of the women's team over the past few World Cups has been an eye-opener for a majority of people. Bollywood stepping in to make biopics on India's legendary cricketers Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami is another small yet significant milestone.

Even mainstream silver screen shows like The Kapil Sharma Show inviting young women cricketers is another such sign of acceptance.

The signs are positive

With the Women's T20 Challenge seeming like a "forced" four-day affair when compared to the extravagant Indian Premier League, all isn't still lost.

BCCI signed up a NFT partner for the Women's T20 Challenge by unveiling FanCraze as an associate partner. A first for Indian cricket, that too starting with women's cricket.

CEAT which has had a long-standing relationship with Indian cricket, be its bat sponsorship or being the official timeout partner for IPL also extended this to Women's cricket by becoming the Official Strategic Timeout Partner for this year's edition in a bid to uplift women's sports in India.

Games24x7's fantasy sports platform, My11Circle also finally ventured into Women's cricket as the official Title sponsor of this league, after they had signed a three-year deal with the IPL franchise Lucknow Super Giants as their official title sponsor.

Boost continued to support the Women's game as one of the official partners for the T20 Challenge. Boost had also recently partnered with World Cricket Championship 3, a game which promoted Women's cricket during the World Cup earlier this year.

In short, women's cricket is ripe for greater monetisation—but only if a certain key element can fall into place. The biggest challenge is to pull in substantial TV and stadium audiences, which in turn would increase marketing spending.

But for this to happen, the entire Indian sports industry needs to invest on a sustained basis in creating more opportunities for the sport to prove its worth.


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