IPL could go back to 8 PM slot from 2023 after TV ratings take a hit this year

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Express News Service

MUMBAI: With the outcome of the 7.30 PM games in the ongoing edition of the IPL more or less decided by the toss and television ratings taking a hit, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is planning to go back to 8 PM starts from the next edition. Although the board has mentioned this only as its ‘preferred timing’ to those who are bidding for the broadcast rights, it is understood that the franchises also want the matches to be pushed back.

Right through this season where dew played a significant role in the early part of the tournament, teams preferred to field first as wet conditions made it difficult for bowlers to grip the ball in the second innings. Although the IPL usually started at 8 PM, in 2020 when the tournament was held in the UAE, the BCCI advanced it by half an hour. With viewership improving vastly, it continued with it even when the 2021 season began in India before moving to the Gulf. And with broadcasters too benefiting from the move, the BCCI stuck to it for the ongoing season too.

However, as it happened during the UAE leg of the IPL 2021, teams have found the toss playing a significant role in the outcome. With next season set to be spread across the country and franchises set to benefit from gate collection, they too feel starting the matches at 8 PM would benefit them on and off the field.

Moreover, the matches were advanced to 7.30 PM as the host broadcaster had been preferring an early start as viewership used to go down post 11 PM on weekdays. However, it has become a common theme for matches to go beyond 11:15 PM, with some going on till 11.40 in a season where not a single match has gone into the Super Over. And not to forget the fact that the television numbers have gone down this season compared to the previous two seasons.

But analysts are not dwelling too much on the numbers this season as most of the other entertainment ventures like theatres are open because of a relaxation in lockdown guidelines. That wasn’t the case in the previous two campaigns. The addition of two new teams and the poor performances of Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings too have played a role this time.

It is also understood that the IPL will stick to the same format next season too as it plans to increase the number of matches only from the 2024 season. The BCCI is holding discussions with the ICC to increase the IPL window so that top players from all the countries remain available throughout. While the possibility of extending it beyond the last week of May is all but ruled out as the English season would begin by then, should the format go back to 10 teams playing each other on a home and away basis, the season would start by mid-March. Although certain players may still be unavailable should there be an overlap, it would at least ensure they would be part of the IPL for the business end.

Closing ceremony in Ahmedabad

Oscar-winner AR Rahman and actor Ranveer Singh are among the host of celebrities set to perform at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on the day of the IPL final on May 29. With this being the 15th season of the IPL, the BCCI is planning to send invites to some of the greats. There are also indications that as part of the 75th year of Independence celebrations, the board will chronicle the journey of the Indian team. As a result of the closing ceremony, the final would begin at 8 pm.

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