For more than a month, Arjun Kumar’s evenings were booked. From 7pm to midnight, the 22-year-old sailor stayed glued to his sofa, mesmerized by the high-voltage cricket played by the teams of the DLF Indian Premier League (IPL). If he did stray, it was in his blue Mumbai Indians team T-shirt, only to watch his home boys play at a nearby stadium. Asked what he will do now that the IPL cricket season is over, Kumar takes a few minutes to think — he is somewhat unsure.
Reasons to rejoice: As Rajasthan Royals celebrate their IPL success, businesses that bore the brunt of the tournament’s stupendous success are preparing to recover from the bruising.
Then he comes up with a plan — he will catch up on movies that he may have ignored or were waiting to be released at theatres which lost audiences to three hours of ball-hurtling, bat-swinging action with cheerleaders, movie stars and on-field shenanigans that offered an unrivalled dose of entertainment.
A day after the first edition of the championship celebrating pop-cricket ended, it’s mixed fortunes for a slew of people. Fans say they feel empty, the entertainment and retail industries are heaving a sigh of relief, and restaurants and pubs are scrambling to invent events that will replicate the extravaganza’s success.
IPL was a “potent mix with 20% soap opera, 40% Bollywood and 40% cricket,” says Shailendra Singh, managing director of Percept Ltd, which produces films, but also organizes sporting and other events.
It is no wonder then that IPL is an addiction that has left a hangover and created a stiff challenge for film-makers and television script writers. Just four big movies released during IPL, most of which flopped. Singh, whose Jannat was the only hit movie during IPL, says he postponed four releases to avoid bumping up against IPL. So, there are now 19 releases coming up over the next nine weeks and it is hard to get a free date to release a film on.
TV channels are also preparing to recover from the IPL bruising. Sony Entertainment Television (SET), the general entertainment channel from Multiscreen Media Pvt. Ltd, whose MAX channel had the telecast rights to IPL, timed its Salman Khan-anchored reality show Dus Ka Dum post-IPL.
“We used IPL as a platform to run promotions and build on launches,” says Albert Almeida, executive vice-president of SET. Sony launched several new shows during IPL that they promoted during matches, and will strengthen story lines in several new shows. Sony’s rival Star Plus will also air reruns of its marquee show, Kya Aap Paanchvi Paas Se Tez Hain, to give a chance for audiences to see it without competition from IPL.
Retailers, too, hope consumers will make their way back to stores after weeks.
At Globus, a 24-store national chain, women shopped while men either did not come or milled around display screens in the stores. The number of men coming in dropped 10% during IPL, says Globus chief executive Vinay Nadkarni.
In fact, the key to surviving IPL for restaurants, bars, stores or malls seems to have hinged on installing television screens showing the matches. For instance, for Olive Bar and Kitchen Pvt. Ltd, which runs a chain of restaurants under the brand names Olive Bar and Kitchen and Olive Beach, business at the Delhi branch was down 15% probably because there were no TV screens there. But business at the Mumbai and Bangalore restaurants was unaffected because there were television screens.
The month-old Mumbai bar, Bootleggers, also tried to capitalize on the IPL opportunity by installing two TV sets, one large TV screen, concocted a IPL-theme cocktail, displayed the schedule on a blackboard, sent out text message reminders for matches and gave discounts to regular watchers.
“It gave people an opportunity to enjoy the Bootleggers experience,” says Ameera Patel who co-owns it with husband Kumar Patel. “Now, we will replace it with other events, including a karaoke night and movie night.”
The success of home teams also determined how much business was affected there. At coffee shop chain Mocha Coffee and Conversations, run by Impressario Entertainment and Hospitality Pvt. Ltd, sales were down by around 15% across the eight cities they are in, except Jaipur, says Riyaz Amlani, managing director. On Sunday, business was down to half in the city’s Mocha outlet as people watched their home team script a fairytale win.
But with IPL over, customers will eventually return to old pastimes. “The saving grace is that there is a 10-month void till April, when it starts again,” says Percept’s Singh.
Neelam Verjee contributed to this story.