Mumbai: The Zee group is looking to build viewership for the second season of its Indian Cricket League (ICL), a Twenty20 cricket tournament, through an advertising blitz, after a poor showing in the inaugural season.
ICL has just released a TV commercial—with a tag line that says “Cricket meri life hain” (cricket is my life)—which shows cricketer Syed Abbas Ali of Delhi Giants hitting a six after struggling to emerge as a professional sportsman.
“Our ads are actually stories of individual players and their determination to reach where they are,” said Shariq Patel, senior vice-president (marketing and operations) of ICL. The earlier ads in this series showed ICL players Ali Murtuza and Amit Uniyal, among others.
Telling tales: A collage of the new ads for ICL released by the Zee group.
The promoters are pulling all the marketing stops to make this season, which begins on 10 October, a success, after being overshadowed by the Board of Control for Cricket in India-promoted Indian Premier League (IPL) in the first season.
Patel said ICL is aiming to garner at least Rs120 crore in revenues. “We hope to clock Rs1 lakh for a 10-second spot, he said.
“We have around two months of ad inventory with us and some of it we are in the process of pre-selling, while the rest we will hold on to for premium rates.”
It will also start signing up sponsors soon.
Despite Patel’s projections, media planners, who wished to remain anonymous, said ICL spots are going for Rs60,000-70,000 for 10 seconds. Some even hope to negotiate for as low as Rs40,000.
By contrast, IPL advertising rates started from Rs1.5-2 lakh for 10 seconds, say buyers—but went up to Rs3 lakh-plus in peak season.
Ad negotiations this season are benchmarked against ICL’s poor viewership ratings of the first season, they say.
According to TAM Media Research Pvt. Ltd’s television data, ICL had an average TV viewership rating (TVR) of 0.30% for the target age group of above 4 years and a total reach for all matches of 55 million out of 131 million people surveyed. These numbers were clocked between 9 March and 6 April.
Reach is calculated on the basis of the number of people who viewed the content for at least 1 minute.
Using the same parameters, the finals had an average TVR of 0.43% and a cumulative reach of 6 million for 6 April.
This compares unfavourably with IPL figures that reached 15-20% TVR nationwide for the finals, said a media buyer.
To be sure, ICL hopes to reverse the trend this time round.
Patel said that brand campaigns done earlier may have been more team-specific and not focused on one thought such as “Cricket meri life hain”.
ICL has also strengthened distribution and matches will be shown on Zee Sports and Ten Sports channels. Patel said that in the first season, ICL was only available on Zee Sports and faced platform and distribution issues.
“The second tournament (IPL) held after that snuck up on us very quickly, and we had two months to put it all together. We did not market it as strongly as we would have liked to. Plus, a lot of our bandwidth was choked by operational issues, such as additional teams that got finalized in the last minute, new stadiums, etc.”
Media buyers say this season, ICL has timing on its side. The 20-over cricket format has been popularized by IPL, but should give ICL some traction, they said.
“The Champions League cricket series did not happen and ICL could be an alternate route for brands that want to promote themselves extensively during the festive season, said Chandradeep Mitra, president of Mudra Max, the media arm of Mudra Communications Pvt. Ltd.
“Also, the ICL is not colliding head on with another big cricket property and the brand campaign is giving it legitimacy as big property.”
Prasanth Kumar, buying head (central trading group) at GroupM India Pvt. Ltd, said ICL is marketing the product a lot more than it did last time. “The series does look promising from the advertiser’s point of view,” he said.