The newly launched International League T20 (ILT20) finds itself embroiled in trouble. All six franchises, as well as the broadcasting giant Zee Entertainment Enterprise, have expressed their desire to renegotiate the current agreement and reevaluate the league’s business model. This development comes as a setback for ILT20, which had initially garnered attention with its fresh perspective and lucrative deals for cricketers.
Despite gaining traction in terms of player participation and popularity, ILT20 has struggled to achieve financial success. The primary factor behind this struggle lies in the 10-year lock-in period imposed on franchises, preventing them from sharing in the central revenue pool until a decade has passed. As a result, the franchises have incurred significant losses, prompting them to seek amendments to the existing deal. Their objective is to secure a portion of the revenue from ILT20 starting from the 2024 season, in order to mitigate their financial burdens.
Zee Entertainment Enterprise aims at renegotiating their current deal
Notably, ILT20 is not only facing issues with its franchises but also encountering pressure from its broadcasting partner, Zee Entertainment Enterprise. Zee, which had acquired the global media rights (TV and digital) for ILT20 at a substantial sum of over Rs 800 crore, is now looking to renegotiate the terms due to underwhelming returns from the first season. Industry insiders suggest that Zee’s initial ten-year agreement may no longer align with their expectations, prompting a reconsideration of the financial arrangement.
One of the key challenges faced by ILT20 during its inaugural season was competition from concurrent T20 leagues, such as the Big Bash League (BBL), South Africa’s SA20, and Bangladesh Premier League (BPL). With several high-profile cricketers, including the likes of Andre Russell, participating in these other leagues simultaneously, ILT20 encountered difficulties in garnering viewership and sustaining audience interest.
The Gulf Giants, owned by the Adani Group, emerged victorious in the inaugural season of International League T20, defeating the Desert Vipers in a thrilling final. Despite this success, ILT20 finds itself at a critical juncture, needing to address the concerns raised by both franchises and broadcasters to ensure its long-term viability.
The fate of ILT20 hangs in the balance as the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) now faces the challenge of mediating negotiations between the franchises, broadcasters, and other stakeholders. It remains to be seen how the board will respond to the collective demands for a revised agreement and a more sustainable business model that accommodates the interests of all parties involved.