Apr 17, 2021 - Sports

All eyes on Indian Premier League as 2021 cricket season kicks off

Illustration of a cricket playing hitting a ball through a television screen

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Indian Premier League's 2021 season got underway this week, and the sprint to the championship is officially on.

Why it matters: The size of the IPL's fanbase is staggering. For reference, more than twice as many people watched the 2020 season opener (200 million) as this year's Super Bowl (96 million).

  • Viewership reached a record high last season, with a 23% increase to 400 billion minutes watched. And that's just TV.
  • Roughly 30% of Disney+'s 100 million subscribers are from Disney+ Hotstar, which is India's exclusive IPL streaming option.

Consider this: LeBron James has 82.2 million Instagram followers. Virat Kohli, the captain of the Indian national team and the IPL's all-time leading scorer, has 108 million.

Virat Kohli screaming in triumph while in uniform and holding a cricket bat and helmet
Virat Kohli. Photo: Stu Forster/Getty Images

How it works: While traditional test cricket matches can last up to five days, the IPL plays Twenty20 cricket, which limits matches to roughly three hours.

  • The regular season comprises 56 total matches, with each team playing every other team twice (home and away). The top four teams make the playoffs.
  • Of note: India is experiencing its worst COVID-19 surge since September, so matches will be played without fans for the second straight season.


  • Mumbai Indians (five titles, including 2020)
  • Chennai Super Kings (three)
  • Kolkata Knight Riders (two)
  • Rajasthan Royals (one)
  • Sunrisers Hyderabad (one)
  • Delhi Capitals
  • Royal Challengers Bangalore
  • Punjab Kings

Go deeper: IPL season preview (Sky Sports)

Go deeper