New Delhi: Television advertising deals being offered for the second edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) are signalling that even cricket, the country’s most popular sport, may not be immune to the downturn in economic growth.
Sony Entertainment Television (SET) MAX, the entertainment channel of Multi Screen Media Pvt. Ltd, is selling 30% of its spot inventory—the commercial airtime sold as independent 10-second advertising spots—as discounted packaged deals.
And unlike for last year’s inaugural edition of the Twenty20 tournament, advertisers buying packages don’t have to buy spots for all the matches. MAX is giving them the option to choose as few as 10 games.
According to a media buyer in discussions with the broadcaster, a 10-second spot in a package would cost around Rs3 lakh against an independent 10 seconder pegged at Rs4-4.15 lakh. He did not want to be identified because of commercial sensitivities.
“In the current economic scenario, there aren’t too many buyers right now,” he said. “Packaged deals are a good way of engaging advertisers who may find Rs4-4.15 lakh (for 10 seconds) a bit too steep. For MAX, it’s a good way to hedge their inventory.”
The inaugural IPL, which was staged over 44 days from 18 April to 1 June and featured 59 matches, had households hooked to their television sets.
No packaged deals were offered last year, when the broadcaster sold airtime under two categories—title and associate sponsorships and 10-second spots. The 10-second spots began with a Rs2-2.5 lakh price tag, but towards the end of the series, the price had shot up to Rs8-10 lakh.
By selling such premium on-air property as packaged deals this year and hedging the risk of having no takers for independent ad spots, the broadcaster may be signalling that it is not too sure of attracting as much advertising this year.
While SET did not disclose details on the discount rates and packages, Rohit Gupta, president (network sales and revenue management, digital and syndication) at SET, said: “This year, we are offering smaller packages on spot buys. So advertisers don’t have to buy time on all 59 games.”
“This way, we will increase our advertiser base, and brands will find it more economical than buying sponsorship rights, or airtime on all matches,” he said.
The offer is also a way for SET to balance the hike in asking rate of Rs28 crore and Rs21 crore for title and associate sponsorships, from Rs21 crore and Rs18 crore last year.
Last year’s sponsors, however, are not too enthused. The two associate sponsors last year, Max New York Life Insurance Co. Ltd and Havell’s India Ltd said the current market scenario does not permit such high spending.
“Although we have not ruled it out, we are thinking twice about it as the market situation doesn't allow us to invest,” said Mukesh Jain, spokesman for Havells India.
“We are keen on renewing (the) partnership, but it’s just too expensive and we are waiting for a better deal to be offered,” said Anisha Motwani, executive vice-president (marketing) and chief marketing officer (new markets) at Max New York Life.
Besides package offers, SET has also got rid of category exclusivity, which in 2008 was a clause that allowed advertisers to block rivals from coming on board by paying the network an additional Rs7 crore to the hefty sponsorship rates.