The Indian Super League, currently in its second season, has been a successful venture so far. The league has attracted the patronage of India’s rich and famous as they have invested vast resources in upgrading facilities at the participating venues, funded grassroots programmes and secured the signatures of renowned players and coaches to ply their trades in the ISL.
The investment has attracted the attention of the Indian public as they have flocked to the games in numbers across all the eight franchises, whether it’s the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Delhi, Fatorda in Goa or the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata there has been no dearth of paying fans, who come to cheer their team.
However, despite the rising popularity of the beautiful game in India, it is still some way behind cricket when it comes to catching the eyeballs of the sport-loving Indian public. The Indian Premier League still remains the most followed domestic league in India, with its heady mix of Cricket and Bollywood – two fields that have no trouble grabbing the attention of the Indian people.
The administrators of India’s national sport hockey have been trying desperately to bring the audiences back to the game and have organised the Hockey India League, but the numbers are still some way behind the IPL and the ISL.
In the 2013 season, Indian Premier League generated revenue to the tune of €160m, whereas Indian Super League’s figures were €60m in its inaugural season in 2014. The numbers for the latest seasons are yet to be publicly declared.
In the qualitative aspect of the league, the IPL has a big advantage over its football and hockey counterparts. The cricket league is able to attract the majority of elite cricketers from across the world. On the other hand, the ISL has seen mostly the players long past their prime come to the Indian subcontinent and with international football so easily available on TV, it is difficult for the ISL to grab eyeballs compared to IPL. The HIL has the same issue with its league populated mostly by Indian players and also the waning interest in the game.
It will be interesting to see how the three leagues shape up in the coming years.