A mere five months after its last season ended, the Indian Premier League (IPL), the wildly popular Twenty20 cricket tournament, is back. And Mumbai Indians are the favourites to win the title again.

It would be a surprise if they weren’t, considering they’ve won five of the last eight editions, including the previous two. This incredible run makes them the most successful team in the league, which began in 2008. 

Mumbai Indians’ rise has mirrored the meteoric ascent of its owner, not just in cricket but in the overall Indian sporting firmament. 

Billionaire Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance Industries, India’s most valuable company, is the majority owner of the country’s premier football tournament, the Indian Super League (ISL). It runs one of India’s largest sports management firms, Rise Worldwide—formerly IMG Reliance. Its non-profit arm, Reliance Foundation, also runs pan-India football and athletics training programmes, as well as competitions for school and college athletes. 

Through these entities, Reliance’s influence extends across a range of sports, including tennis, basketball, and table tennis. And Reliance’s reach is hardly limited to India. Ambani’s wife Nita has been a member of the International Olympic Committee since 2016. 

In a clear sign of its growing sporting ambitions, in December, Reliance bought bought The Indian Express RIL completes acquisition of IMG Worldwide LLC’s stake in sports management JV Read more  global sports and event management firm IMG Worldwide’s 50% stake in their 10-year-old joint venture for Rs 52 crore ($7 million). IMG Reliance became Rise Worldwide. 

“From commerce to development to governance, Reliance is in everything,” says a senior sports management professional who has consulted for Rise. They and several others The Ken spoke to for this story requested anonymity as they didn’t want to be seen publicly commenting on Reliance. 

“They are, by far, the most influential entity in Indian sport,” says Ranjit Bajaj, a former team owner in the I-League, an older rival of the ISL. “It’s like a monopoly.”

Between its three key sports subsidiaries, Reliance reported operating revenue of Rs 885 crore ($118 million) in the year ended March 2020. That’s a drop in the ocean compared with the behemoth’s overall operating revenue of nearly Rs 6,00,000 crore ($80 billion) in the same period. But the significance of sport for Reliance is much more than the money it brings in. 

The 14-season-old IPL, for instance, is unrivalled in what it can do for sponsors and partners. Take credit card payments startup CRED CRED The Ken CRED in the IPL—sixer or hit wicket?

AUTHOR

Seetharaman G

Starting out as a business journalist in 2008, Seetharaman has written about energy, climate change, retail, banking, and technology. He has worked with Business Today, a fortnightly, and the Sunday edition of The Economic Times.

View Full Profile

Available exclusively to subscribers of The Ken India

This story is a part of The Ken India edition. Subscribe. Questions?

MOST POPULAR

Annual Subscription

12-month access to 200+ stories, archive of 800+ stories from our India edition. Plus our premium newsletters, Beyond The First Order and The Nutgraf worth Rs. 99/month or $2/month each for free.

Rs. 2,750

Subscribe
 

Quarterly Subscription

3-month access to 60+ new stories with 3-months worth of archives from our India edition. Plus our premium newsletters, Beyond The First Order and The Nutgraf worth Rs. 99/month or $2/month each for free.

Rs. 1,750

Subscribe
 

Single Story

Instant access to this story for a year along with comment privileges.

Rs. 500

Subscribe
MOST POPULAR

Annual Subscription

12-month access to 150+ stories from Southeast Asia.

$ 120

Subscribe
 

Quarterly Subscription

3-month access to 35+ stories from Southeast Asia.

$ 50

Subscribe
 

Single Story

Instant access to this story for a year along with comment privileges.

$ 20

Subscribe

Questions?

What is The Ken?

The Ken is a subscription-only business journalism website and app that provides coverage across two editions - India and Southeast Asia.

What kind of stories do you write?

We publish sharp, original and reported stories on technology, business and healthcare. Our stories are forward-looking, analytical and directional — supported by data, visualisations and infographics.

We use language and narrative that is accessible to even lay readers. And we optimise for quality over quantity, every single time.

What do I get if I subscribe?

For subscribers of the India edition, we publish a new story every weekday, a premium daily newsletter, Beyond The First Order and a weekly newsletter - The Nutgraf.

For subscribers of the Southeast Asia edition, we publish a new story three days a week and a weekly newsletter, Strait Up.

The annual subscription will get you complete, exclusive access to our archive of previously published stories for your edition, along with access to our subscriber-only mobile apps, our premium comment sections, our newsletter archives and several other gifts and benefits.

Do I need to pay separately for your premium newsletters?

Nope. Paid, premium subscribers of The Ken get our newsletters delivered for free.

Does a subscription to the India edition grant me access to Southeast Asia stories? Or vice-versa?

Afraid not. Each edition is separate with its own subscription plan. The India edition publishes stories focused on India. The Southeast Asia edition is focused on Southeast Asia. We may occasionally cross-publish stories from one edition to the other.

Do you offer an all-access joint subscription for both editions?

Not yet. If you’d like to access both editions, you’ll have to purchase two subscriptions separately - one for India and the other for Southeast Asia.

Do you offer any discounts?

No. We have a zero discounts policy.

Is there a free trial I can opt for?

We don’t offer any trials, but you can sign up for a free account which will give you access to the weekly free story, our archive of free stories and summaries of the paid stories. You can stay on the free account as long as you’d like.

Do you offer refunds?

We allow you to sample our journalism for free before signing up, and after you do, we stand by its quality. But we do not offer refunds.

I am facing some trouble purchasing a subscription. What can I do?

Please write to us at [email protected] detailing the error or queries.