New Delhi: Ticket sales for the third season of the Indian Premier League (IPL), which began on Friday, are expected to boom as the cricket tournament returns to home soil after last year’s South African diversion.
Officials at five of the eight teams Mint spoke with said 80% of tickets for the first three home matches have been been snapped up, in contrast with the first two IPL seasons.
Cashing in: Deccan Chargers’ players celebrate the wicket of Sourav Ganguly during the first match of IPL 3 in Navi Mumbai on Friday. PTI
Ticket sales took a while to pick up in the inaugural season in 2008, while the relocation to South Africa meant few Indian could attend the matches.
“In season 1, most ticket sales for home matches happened two days before the match; but now we are all sold out for the first two matches and 60% for the third home game,” said Rakesh Singh, marketing head of Chennai Super Kings, which is looking at a 66% jump in revenue from 2008. The team is scheduled to play its first home match on Sunday, its second on 21 March and the third on 31 March.
Rajasthan Royals chief marketing officer Raghu Iyer is expecting a 300% increase in ticket sales this year compared with season 1, with “tickets for most of our seven home games already maxed out”. The team’s decision to add Ahmedabad as one of the host venues apart from Jaipur could help boost stadium attendance.
The story is no different for the Mumbai Indians, Deccan Chargers and Delhi Daredevils, all of whom reported an overwhelming demand for tickets, with revenue expectations exceeding those of previous seasons by 25-100%.
“There is no doubt that IPL is a bigger product today, but what has really helped sell tickets this year is that all the the teams have set up a strong distribution network through partners, big and small, that are eager to ride on the IPL brand,” said Amrit Mathur, chief operating officer of GMR Sports Pvt. Ltd, a subsidiary of GMR Holdings Ltd that owns the Delhi team. The Daredevils have ticketing partners such as ING Vysya Bank, bill payment service provider Easy Bill and Bookmyshow.com, besides sales through IPL’s website.
On Bookmyshow.com, for instance, ticket sales had crossed Rs10 crore for Mumbai Indians and over Rs8 crore for Kings XI Punjab as of 12 March.
Deccan Chargers chairman V. Shankar was worried that the matches moving out of Hyderabad would dampen interest in the team. “But the response has been better than expected, with the first few matches almost sold out,” he said. The Hyderabad matches were moved to Mumbai, Cuttack and Nagpur owing to security concerns over the ongoing pro-Telangana state movement. But the team is upbeat about revenue through ticket sales and hopes to see a 40% jump to Rs14 crore this year compared with season 1.
The IPL management had compensated teams for loss in ticket sales last year due to the move to South Africa. Team owners, however, say that the amount they made was still significantly lower than season 1 sales.
Apart from the box-office, teams are getting another Rs3 crore from the IPL management, which has struck a deal with them to reserve the best seats in the house for their own club-membership initiative.
Under this scheme, tickets are being sold at a premium of Rs45,000 each, confirmed an executive from one of the above mentioned teams, who did not want to be identified in this context. Revenue from the elite club membership will benefit IPL directly.
The boost in ticket sales stems from a coordinated effort not just from individual team franchisees, but from the IPL management as well.
In a meeting with Mint last month, Sundar Raman, chief executive of IPL, had said that while the first two seasons of the tournament were dedicated to building the IPL brand and creating a fan base, the focus this year is to push ticket sales.
The recent marketing campaigns have focused on building excitement around the in-stadium experience. While cinema halls will be showing matches for the first time, they won’t be able to show games being played locally. “You won’t get the feed for those home matches,” said Jayendra Banerji, vice-president (operations) for Satyam Cineplexes, which is showing the championship in four locations in New Delhi and Indore.
Theatre owners say watching IPL in movie halls would be an improvement on television. “What you are seeing on a (movie) screen will be bigger than you see on the television. I am not only talking about the size, but also the scope,” says Amitabh Vardhan, chief executive of PVR Cinemas, which is showing IPL matches in 19 theatre complexes. “You will be seeing 33% more.”
Ahead of the tournament opening, television news channels settled their dispute with the IPL board and the official broadcaster over showing footage, according to Lalit Modi, IPL chairman and commissioner.
“We’re going to review (the agreement) in June. The idea was to go forward. Both parties had a long dialogue before coming to an understanding last night,” Modi said.
Gouri Shah in Mumbai contributed to this story.