IPL Chairman Brijesh Patel feels that the forthcoming edition of the tournament will garner the highest viewership in the competition’s history due to fans being deprived of any cricket. Patel further explained that UAE was finalized as hosts because they controlled the Covid-19 situation.
The scheduling of the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) might be less than ideal - in September, well past the Indian summer - and the frenzy surrounding the tournament might be a bit underwhelming, especially compared to the previous editions, but the organizers have every reason to be excited. With India - and several other countries - still under partial lockdown, with a vast majority of people confined to their homes and with cricketing action being minimal, a mood-cheering festival like the IPL is naturally bound to attract people to their monitors and television screens.
With a staggering 462 million viewers, the 2019 edition of IPL broke records but according to tournament chairman Brijesh Patel, those numbers could be smashed this year. Patel feels that the crave for cricket will make the 2020 edition the biggest and the most-watched IPL of all time.
"It is very satisfying to see IPL happening after all the hurdles on the way. Finally, we are able to make it happen but this is only the beginning as it is a long tournament, so we can not afford to be complacent but definitely, it is very satisfying," Patel told ANI.
"I think cricket fans were a bit disappointed when it was postponed and nothing was certain about the fate of the tournament. But now they (fans) are looking forward to seeing some live cricket, so I feel this year's viewership will be the highest ever and this year's IPL should be bigger than last year as well.”
Despite the tournament looking certain to be cancelled around the month of May, the BCCI refused to give up, refused to pull the trigger and finally managed to collaborate with the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) to host the tournament in the UAE. Incidentally, the first leg of the 2014 edition, too, was held in UAE but this time around, Patel revealed that the BCCI opted for the Emirati as, according to him, the country ‘controlled’ the Covid-19 situation better than the rest.
"It is also the hard work and patience of all our members in the BCCI and the IPL officials; they have put in a lot of hard work to make it happen. To start with, it was the Indian government who gave us the nod to host the IPL abroad; and I would also like to thank ECB, who willingly wanted to have IPL in the UAE.
"See, there is no hold on the pandemic, no one could control it, so we had to keep waiting and watching and find out where and when we can play. It was in no one's hand. It could be anywhere, but UAE had controlled the Covid-19 situation. We are taking care of all the guidelines and giving priority to the health and safety of players, which is no doubt paramount for us.”
The tournament will be played across three venues in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah and will kick start at 7:30 PM IST on September 19 at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.