New Delhi: The hype and the glitz around Indian Premier League (IPL) is not limited to India. Around eight million people from countries across the world are glued to the game that is essentially being played between eight Indian teams on the Indian soil.
“The international viewership of IPL from Asia, Middle East, the UK and the US so far can be estimated to be around 7-8 million people (per match),” said Venu Nair, president, South Asia, World Sports Group (WSG), the sports marketing and management agency that won the international media distribution rights of IPL from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). Nair claims to have generated $100 million (Rs402 crore) by selling telecast rights to various companies across these markets. WSG has paid BCCI $1.026 billion for the next 10 years for these rights.
“The kind of response IPL has generated among overseas audience is (usually) seen only during tournaments such as the (Cricket) World Cup,” he added.
Getting popular: Shane warne celebrates the dismissal of V.V.S. Laxman with teammates during an IPL match in Hyderabad on Thursday. (Photo: PTI)
In Australia, each match has attracted up to around 3,50,000 viewers. According to Australian sports channel Network Ten, which won the IPL telecast rights for approximately Australian $10-15 million for five years, the viewership from the five metros of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, has ranged between 81,000 and 360,000 viewers in the past one week. “The IPL viewership has exceeded our expectations,” said Gus Seebeck, sport marketing and publicity manager, Network Ten. “Maybe it was because Australian players performed well. The overall excitement that was built around IPL also got many people interested,” he added. The free-to-air channel that generates revenues primarily through advertisements, claims to have received impressive response from advertisers. While telecommunications company Primus Telecommunications’ brand iPrimus came on board as the primary sponsor, fast food chain McDonalds Corp., media conglomerate Sony Corp. and retail chain Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd joined in as on-air sponsors.
In the UK too, IPL has been a huge hit. Setanta Sports GB Ltd, a leading sports broadcaster in Europe had more than 100,000 viewers watching each IPL match on the first weekend. The channel is subscription-based where viewers have to download packages for 10 pounds a month. The channel so far focused mainly on Rugby and football but it added cricket to its offerings for the first time with IPL. “IPL is a new entity and we didn’t know what to expect of it in the UK, especially since it does not have any English player but we find that nearly 10% of our homes are watching IPL,” said Richard Brooke, director, Setanta Sports. Apart from the subscription money, the network has also found Blue Square, a British gaming and betting company to sponsor the telecast. “With the kind of response we have received from IPL, we are going to get into cricket more seriously now,” added Brooke.
Dubai-based Arab Digital Distribution (ADD) that won the 10-year telecast rights to IPL for its sports channel ART Prime Sports, is also pleased with its long-term decision. The network, so far, charged viewers Rs740 per subscription but it doubled the amount to Rs1,530 a month for the packaged that included IPL. “There has been a 10-15% surge in our subscriber base of 120,000 in the Middle East for the month of April and May because of IPL,” said V. Shivkumar, head of channel distribution, ART Prime Sports. The network has also signed up a leading construction company Al Barakah as their presenting sponsor.
Comic Business | Shreyas Navare
In the US, IPL is being aired on the two leading direct-to-home platforms Dish Network and Direct TV for $59 a month. Although the viewership numbers were not ready yet, the executives said they were expecting a tremendous response. “After India lost in the last cricket World Cup, the morale was down among Indian cricket lovers. Initially, there was not a great response among cricket loyalists in the US,” said Rohinton Maloo, managing director, Cutting Edge Media, a division of MediaScore Associates, an advertising sales and strategy company. “But after the first weekend, there is a huge demand for IPL matches on the television and Internet,” he added.
The Internet has proved to be a popular medium for non-resident Indians. According to WSG’s Nair, the official IPL website received more than 3.5 million hits in the first weekend by users overseas.
In addition, Willow TV Pvt. Ltd, a portal streaming IPL matches live to North America, claims to have got a remarkable response from users. The website charges users $59 for the service and has a active user base of approximately 150,000. “The user response has been much better than the T20 World Cup and a hundred times better than ICL,” said Manish Bagga, vice-president, Willow TV.
In India, Sony Entertainment Television, the official broadcast partner of IPL, has already surpassed the overall average television ratings of the Twenty20 World Cup held in September 2000. According to estimates by TAM Media Research, the Mumbai-based television audience measurement agency, average television rating during the first three days of IPL was around 6.5, while the average rating during T20 World Cup was 4.14.