IBTimes UK

Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) are way ahead of Premier League giants Manchester United in terms of growth rate, according to Indian cricket's governing body, Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

The BCCI's 2015/16 Annual Report claims that the Kolkata-based IPL franchise's growth rate is a staggering 300% while United have been able to register only 204% in 2015/16.

Skippered by Indian opening batsman Gautam Gambhir, KKR have won the league title in 2012 and 2014. The franchise is co-owned by Indian cinema icon Shah Rukh Khan and features him in most of their promotional activities.

The report also said that IPL was the fastest growing sports league in the world based on the increase in Twitter followers. The eight-team cricket league has seen an increase of followers at a rate of 300% from 2014 to 2016. Uefa Champions League comes next best with a growth rate of 239%. The National Basketball League and the Major League Baseball occupy the fourth and fifth position on the growth list at 99% and 75%, respectively.

The cricket body revealed that IPL, as a brand, is now worth $4,500m and the total revenue impact of the league is more than 0.6% of India's GDP.

"(IPL), which completed its ninth season in 2016, is the biggest brand ever in cricket history. In 2015, the valuation appraisal firm Duff & Phelps estimated the IPL brand to be worth $4.5 billion. A report by management consultancy firm KPMG puts the total impact of IPL 2015 on the Indian economy at Rs 1,150 Crores, more than 0.6 per cent of the country's GDP," according to the report.

The league's following has been steadily growing since its inception in 2008. High-profile businessmen and movie stars, who invovled themselves in the league, made sure the teams were established as popular brands.

Despite facing criticism due to spot-fixing scandals, the TV viewership has been on the rise and BCCI claims the viewership mark hit 100m-mark in 2016. Recently the cricket board announced it would go for an open tender process for allocating IPL's global broadcasting rights, which is currently held by Sony Pictures Network India, for a 10-year-period.

Sony's contract comes to an end after IPL 2017. Notably, online marketplace Amazon has offered to bid for the digital broadcasting rights of the cricket league.

IBTimes UK