Kohli, has an estimated 35 million followers on Facebook and made $22 million in the year ended June 1, 2017, according to Forbes. Some insiders believe that’s a conservative estimate. His popularity together with that of other cricketers can at least partly be chalked up to the fact that India is a top team among the 10 or so nations that play the sport regularly.

“Cricket attracts between 30,000 and 60,000 people to the stadiums, especially for the shorter format of the game,” said Mishra, who noted that number is typically “seen only in political rallies.”

The advertisers that are set to help Star India recover the $2.55 billion it paid for the IPL rights are banking on the sport’s stupendous reach. The 2017 edition of the IPL which ended in May was watched by approximately 180 million people on television, according to media sources.

“Advertisers will be willing to pay a premium, given that the IPL is an impact property,” said Nandini Dias, India CEO at media buying agency Lodestar UM. “But if Star is going to depend only on advertising to recover the cost, they are being too ambitious. They will have to look at other avenues, like selling content and subscriptions.”

The economy in India is showing signs of slowing in the near term — its growth hit a three-year low in the quarter ended June. Advertising may take a hit generally, but a slowdown is very unlikely to disrupt cricket.

“Investing in cricket is a no-brainer. All the matches of the IPL in 2017 were completely sold out,” Mathur said. “Don’t see a problem next year.”

Facebook Comments