The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is intending to exploit the Hindi speaking regions through the Indian Premier League (IPL) expansion from the 2022 season. According to Cricbuzz, the apex Indian board is aiming to correct the pan-India balance of the cash-rich league.

In order to keep the zonal imbalance on the right track, the BCCI has shortlisted six cities that will host two new franchises. These cities are Guwahati, Ranchi, Cuttack (from the East region), Ahmedabad (from the West), Lucknow (from the Central Zone) and Dharamsala (from North).

Although the date for the auction has not been finalised yet, but the process is expected to take place soon. A base price of Rs 2000 crore has been fixed for the new teams.

As per the data available to the BCCI, the consumption of sports in the Hindi-speaking regions is the largest among all regions. This can be understood with the fact that as much as 65 per cent of viewership of the four billion minutes of the IPL coverage of Star Sports in 2020 came from the Hindi region. The evidence of such was on display recently when Sony Ten 3 – the Hindi language channel of Sony Pictures Network – emerged as the No 1 sports channel in the country.

For the ongoing England-India series, 50.7 per cent of the viewership is for the Hindi sports channel (Sony Ten 3) as compared to 10.6 per cent for Sony Six (English) and 0.4 for Sony Ten 4 (Tamil and Telugu).

Further, the BCCI has not featured any Southern city simply because there are already three teams – Chennai Super Kings, Royals Challengers Bangalore and Sunrisers Hyderabad – represents the south region.

Currently, there are two franchises from the north zone, i.e. Delhi Capitals and Punjab Kings and one each from east and west – Kolkata Knight Riders and Mumbai Indians, respectively. Whereas the season one winner Rajasthan Royals, comes under Central Zone.

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