New Delhi: Are viewers finally getting tired of watching the Indian Premier League (IPL) matches on television?
Latest TV viewership ratings appear to suggest so—albeit from a stunning debut—and advertisers say they are still gung-ho about the league.
According to Mumbai-based TAM Media Research Pvt. Ltd, a television audience measurement agency, the average TV viewership rating (TVR) on 10 May for IPL was 4.72%, sharply off the average 5.2% ratings achieved during the first two weeks of the much-hyped cricket tournament.
Audience Measurement and Analytics Pvt. Ltd, or aMap, an audience measurement firm that provides overnight viewership data, reports that the average TVR dropped to 3.1% on 8 May and a 13 May match between Kolkata Knight Riders and Delhi Daredevils, two high-profile teams in the league, garnered a 4% viewership.
The Twenty20 cricket tournament has been a television hit. According to MindShare Insights, the research arm of media buying agency MindShare, in its first 15 days, around 131 million people watched the tournament on TV across the country, the highest reach managed by any Indian television show. MindShare based its study on data provided by TAM.
As a result, even as the first season is far from over and no dates have been announced for year two, the unprecedented viewer response has had advertisers scrambling for next year’s sponsorship and other commercial deals with Sony Entertainment Television, or SET, the official broadcaster of the contest.
Of the seven current on-air sponsors on SET, which include presenting sponsors Vodafone Essar Plc. and Hyundai Motor India Ltd, and associate sponsors Havells India Ltd, Max New York Life Insurance Co. Ltd, Coca-Cola India, Godrej Appliances Ltd and Citibank India, four have already approached the broadcaster to secure “association” next year, claims a senior SET executive who didn’t want to be named.
Some new advertisers, such as ITC Ltd, Future Group, and satellite TV services provider Tata Sky Ltd, are also in the race for next year’s sponsorships.
“We are currently running a new Big Bazaar campaign on IPL, and since the response is good, we are considering sponsorship for the next season,” said Kishore Biyani, chief executive of Future Group. The group’s Pantaloon Retail India Ltd runs Big Bazaar, a hypermarket chain.
Advertisers say there are more than one reason for them to seek “association” with IPL. “IPL has been a good investment for us. Next year, besides on-air presence, we would like to pitch for on-ground sponsorship as well,” said a spokesperson for Max New York Life.
Vodafone has also shown interest for the next season. “The first season has been good and there is no reason to believe the next season will not be. So indeed, we will explore opportunities,” said Vodafone’s marketing director Harit Nagpal.
It won’t come cheap. SET is already looking at increasing ad and sponsorship rates next year and one media buyer, who didn’t want to be identified, claims the broadcaster is seeking a 30-40% increase.
Rohit Gupta, SET’s president of network sales, confirmed that next year’s rates will be “significantly” higher but declined to elaborate.
What is unclear is if the smaller audience in mid-May reflects a dip or a growing fatigue that could make the fewer eyeballs more expensive for advertisers. Those signing up for next year are also making an early bet that this year’s large television audiences aren’t just about the novelty of a debut league. This year, the presenting and associate sponsorship deals were closed at a high of around Rs21 and Rs18 crore, respectively. Initially, SET sold regular ad spots of 10 seconds for Rs2-2.5 lakh though the rates were raised to Rs4 lakh. One media buyer said SET is seeking Rs8 crore for 10 seconds for the finals.
For now, advertisers seem undeterred and those who were on the sidelines or marginally involved are planning on stronger links. “We are considering options for the next season,” says Godrej’s chief operating officer George Menezes. Godrej chose to ride on IPL to relaunch its new logo and advertising campaign.
“We are already planning a new branding initiative during IPL next year,” adds Mukesh Jain, assistant general manager at Havells India Ltd. The “IPL is a very attractive format and has been a good investment for Havells.”
Real estate company DLF Ltd, which is one of the four on-ground sponsors that include Hero Honda Motors Ltd, Citibank and Vodafone, is also said to be seeking an on-air presence the next season, perhaps to make up for the fact that at least on television, it gets limited play beyond the name association and logo.
“DLF, the title sponsor of IPL, is a major contender for on-air sponsorship next year,” said an SET executive, but Mint couldn’t independently confirm this with DLF. SET’s Gupta also declined to discuss DLF but said there could be an overlap in on-air and on-ground sponsorships from next year. “Brands want to ensure maximum reach. So, many of them are seeking both on-air as well as on-ground associations,” he added. “We are also in discussion with some new categories such as infrastructure, DTH (direct-to-home), FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) and retail for sponsorship deals for next year.”
Said Vikram Kaushik, chief executive of Tata Sky: “We are considering to be on IPL next year but, the final decision will depend on how cost-effective the investment will be.”
“IPL has been a good innovation. It has given advertisers a new engaging and interesting platform to reach consumers,” adds Sandeep Kaul, chief executive at ITC Ltd’s personal care business. He wouldn’t elaborate on any specific plans his business might have on next year’s IPL.