After stupendous success in its debut season, what else does IPL need? It needs to ensure that the accolades continue to roll in the next season too. And to achieve that when IPL 2 starts in April 2009, the governing body, Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), broadcast partner Multi Screen Media Pvt. Ltd and the eight IPL franchisees are strategizing to iron out wrinkles and make sure IPL retains its monicker as the biggest entertainer and maybe money-spinner, in the sub-continent.
Fans can certainly expect the game to be even bigger this time. More money is being poured into IPL as sponsorship rates are doubled. BCCI has signed on its fourth sponsor for close to $7 million (around Rs29.4 crore), a 55% increase from last year’s rates that stood at around $4.5 million.
Although the name of the company was not disclosed, Dhiraj Malhotra, ICC and IPL tournament manager and IPL marketing manager says, “We have signed on another ground sponsor and two slots are still remaining.”
Even Multi Screen Media has hiked its on-air sponsorship rates by 50% from last year. It had earlier sold associate sponsorships for Rs18 crore and presenting sponsorships for Rs21 crore. The network aims to close deals in the next one month, leaving only 20% of inventory unsold to gamble with closer to the games, confirmed Rohit Gupta, president of its network sales.
Franchise owners also seem to be focusing on building new revenue generating streams to make up for the high costs incurred in getting started. “For the first year, franchisees spent anywhere between Rs60 crore and Rs100 crore in running costs, and made about Rs30 crore to Rs40 crore in ticketing and sponsorships. The focus for the coming year will be to increase the money coming in,” says a senior executive from a team who did not want to be named.
Twin objectives: Chennai Super Kings will focus on merchandising and club membership. Photograph: R. Senthil Kumar / PTI
Actors Shah Rukh Khan and Juhi Chawla’s Kolkata Knight Riders team already has a host of brands associated with it, such as Nokia, Reebok, Anandbazar Patrika, Hungama, Belmonte and luxury watch brand Tag Heuer. But it plans to offer more value to sponsors by taking the partnership to various media platforms.
“We want to be present on every platform to reach all age groups, and offer the best value to our sponsors,” says Joy Bhattarchajya, director of Kolkata Knight Riders. According to him, they had two months in hand to put together the marketing strategy of the star-studded Kolkata team’s inaugural run. For Season 2, they are taking a whole year. “We didn’t think IPL would get this big this fast,” said Bhattarchajya.
Rakesh Singh, marketing head, The India Cements Ltd, who is overseeing the Chennai Super Kings team, says that IPL 2009 will have a greater focus on merchandising and club membership to achieve the twin objectives of reach and revenue. “Many people are coming to us for co-branding, and they are national brands,” he says. “And brand extension has no limits.” The team is also studying stadium occupancy rates to see what it can do in terms of increasing its ticket revenues.
Mumbai Indians claims to be in the “research phase” in determining what worked and what they can do differently next year. “Unlike this year, we have more time to carefully plan out our strategy for the next season,” said the spokesperson of Mumbai Indians. “We are evaluating matters such as ticket prices and sponsorships and increasing our merchandising efforts from last year.”
The Kolkata team has identified several long-term and immediate goals for the team to build on their connect with fans. It plans to set up a cricket academy in the long run but for now it is scouting for new talent.
The team, which is flying to Brisbane, Australia, in the first week of October, will be back in time for Kolkata’s most celebrated festival, Durga Puja. During that period, Kolkata Knight Riders will be involved in community events and celebrations. “Our team has an established fan base — our website has 50,000 registered users, so it is important for us to build on this connect,” says Bhattarchajya.
Meanwhile, new guidelines are being drafted by BCCI on team composition. These include rules on how franchisees can trade or add new players and if more international players can be signed on. Says IPL CEO Sundar Raman, “The new guidelines will be issued by the end of this quarter and the trading window is likely to open up in January.”
However, the biggest concern for now is whether any bilateral cricket series, such as the one between England and Sri Lanka, will clash with IPL 2. That could dampen spirits as the availability of international players would be limited. Already, international players have been the toast of Season 1, the survey shows, with 22% of respondents hoping to watch more foreign players.
“If you ask us for our wish list, then we would like to have a clear window for IPL.
During the first season, a few Australian players had to leave after a few matches,” says Singh. “There should be rules that state that there should not be any other international engagements while the IPL tournament is on. If players leave after a few matches, it is difficult to regroup as it is a game with a short format.”
Almost 100% across 11 cities said they would watch IPL in Season 2
83% plan to support a particular team
Almost 100% support from Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Jaipur and Chennai
Bangalore the only city with claiming support behind a particular team
Local residents planning to support home teams
more than f90% or Jaipur and Kolkata
more than 70% for Mumbai and Chennai
60% for Mohali and Bangalore
Vidhya S. contributed to this story.