New Delhi: The general election may have won the battle, but it looks like the Indian Premier League (IPL) will win the war—for eyeballs.
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Viewership studies by two media buying firms say the Twenty20 cricket league that begins on 18 April, will attract more viewers than the election coverage.
The general election begins on 16 April and will be conducted in five phases till 13 May. The counting of votes will happen on 16 May, the day when election coverage peaks on news channels.
The final of IPL is to be played on 24 May in Johannesburg.
The government’s fear that it would not be able to provide security for both the elections and IPL forced the tournament to move to South Africa.
If an IPL match and election coverage happens at the same time, approximately 60% of the viewers will prefer to watch cricket, says a dipstick study of 120 people done across Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore by Maxus, a media buying agency that is part of GroupM India Pvt. Ltd.
Drawing power: Celebrations during a match in the first edition of IPL. Estimates by media agencies suggest that in 2008, IPL had over a course of 44 days generated around 300 gross rating points. PTI
A similar study by Mediaedge:cia Worldwide Ltd (MEC), another media buying agency from the GroupM stable, which surveyed 1,500 viewers across 10 cities—Nagpur, Ahmedabad, Chandigarh, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Mumbai, New Delhi, and Jaipur—also found that viewers are likely to vote for IPL matches over election coverage.
“The average TRP (television rating point, a measure of viewership) a news channel would bring in during elections a range between 0.6 and 0.7,” says Anisha Motwani, chief marketing officer, Max New York Life Insurance Co. Ltd. “...IPL delivered TRPs of 6-7 on an average (last year).”
Max New York pulled out as an associate sponsor of IPL this year, but has bought significant number of television spots during the coverage of the matches out of fear of losing out on an opportunity to reach out to consumers.
History shows that IPL does draw more viewers than elections.
Estimates by media agencies suggest that in 2008, IPL, over a course of 44 days generated around 300 gross rating points (GRPs)—another measure of viewership, this is the aggregate of TRPs over a period of time—whereas the daily GRPs garnered by 25 news channels that covered the results of the Lok Sabha elections in 2004 were around 93.
To be sure, comparing viewership generated over 44 days with viewership garnered over a day may not seem fair, but media buyers argue that IPL was telecast for only 3 hours and there was only one channel telecasting it, whereas in the case of elections, there were 25 channels involved, and they covered the declaration of results around the clock.
Ad spots during the broadcast of IPL matches cost significantly more than those on news channels.
According to media buyers, a 10-second ad spot during an IPL match is currently being sold for Rs4 lakh against the going rate of Rs2,000 to Rs4,000 for election coverage on news channels. And while a sponsor has to spend around Rs30-35 crore to get associated with IPL, the sponsorship of election coverage on news channels costs anything between Rs15 lakh and Rs30 lakh.
Given the math, media buyers say that spending on spots during the telecast of IPL matches makes for a better investment.
“IPL is definitely a very strong platform as an advertiser can reach out to the audience in a more focused way,” says Alok Bharadwaj, vice- president, Canon India. “...elections are more fragmented.”
This year, the general election will be covered by more than around 80 English, Hindi, regional and international channels.
Even the study by Maxus points out that “...viewers can somewhat clearly re-collect that IPL is to be played on Max (the channel that belongs to Multi Screen Media Pvt. Ltd, which is the broadcast partner for IPL), but for elections...they are being shown everywhere.”
The study also points out that while viewers can get updates on elections intermittently, cricket fans are not likely to sacrifice live action once they sit in front of their television.
Media buyers also say that the profile of viewers on IPL will be much better than news channels.
“IPL will be watched by both mass as well as niche audiences. It will be watched by people across the country,” says Emmanuel Upputuru, chief creative officer, Publicis India, an advertising agency. “And if the viewership data from last year is anything to go by, the event will cut across age groups and genders as well. Whereas elections continue to predominantly draw in male viewers above 35 years of age. Then, niche and mass viewers will get segmented between English, Hindi and regional news channels.”
The MEC study, however, points out that IPL viewership this year is likely to dip a bit in comparison with the last year.
“There will be more IPL watched than elections for sure...,” says Shubha George, managing director of MEC. “But unlike last year when viewers just watched IPL during the time it was on, this year they might keep flipping between elections and cricket, so average viewership is likely to drop by 7%.”
An advertiser, who incidentally has bought time on both IPL and election coverage, also votes in favour of IPL. “IPL cuts across age groups and genders. Advertising on IPL will help reach out to a wider base (than elections),” says a spokesperson for Samsung Electronics Pvt. Ltd. The company bought ads on elections because of “its overall importance”, the spokesperson added.