No viewer fatigue for IPL, concur rivals Barc and TAM4 min read . Updated: 15 May 2015, 11:54 PM IST
Eighth season of Indian Premier League has exceeded expectations in terms of TV viewership and advertising support, show data from audience measurement agencies
Mumbai: The eighth season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) has exceeded expectations in terms of TV viewership and advertising support, belying concerns that the popular Twenty20 tournament may fall prey to cricket fatigue and all the controversies it has generated in the past.
Although the use of TAM data has been discontinued by most advertising agencies and broadcasters, it is the only currency which offers a historical perspective on IPL viewership.
TAM numbers show that the time spent by viewers per match this year is 45 minutes and 4 seconds, 9% higher than IPL 7.
Similarly, the average TVT (television viewership in thousands) has increased 23% from 2014, when part of the tournament was played outside India because it was an election year.
Data published by Barc for the last three weeks (that is when the newly instituted industry body came up with its first TV ratings) reflects the increasing popularity of IPL.
For weeks 16, 17 and 18 of 2015 (18 April to 8 May), Sony MAX, the official IPL broadcaster, managed to garner a sizeable share of viewership, taking the lead over Hindi entertainment channels Star Plus and Colors.
During week 16, Sony MAX recorded a prime-time TVT of 99,494, which was way ahead of the viewer numbers of Star Plus at 44,590. The trend continued in the next two weeks as well.
The data disproved pre-tournament concerns that cricket fatigue—IPL following quick on the heels of the cricket World Cup and India’s tour of Australia—and fallout from past controversies, including the match betting and spot-fixing row of 2013, may take its toll on IPL.
IPL viewership on digital media has also seen an upswing this year. Star India’s digital offering, Hotstar, recorded more than 110 million views for the tournament by the end of April.
In comparison, the entire 2014 edition of the tournament registered 62 million views on starsports.com.
Even advertiser interest continues to remain steady as the league enters its final stages. In fact, the year saw a slew of e-commerce brands flocking to advertise on IPL, including Paytm, Amazon and CarDekho.com, among others.
According to analysts, e-commerce firms will contribute more than 30% to overall revenues of IPL this year.
PepsiCo India Holdings Pvt. Ltd remains the title sponsor, rolling out its new campaigns during the season.
According to Rohit Gupta, president of network sales at Multi-Screen Media Pvt. Ltd (MSM), which operates the Sony bouquet of channels, this year’s edition of IPL has “probably been one of the best for MSM, both in terms of revenue as well as viewership".
“It’s the first time that we sold out almost 100% of our inventory one week prior to the start of the tournament," Gupta said.
Mint had in March reported that IPL would contribute between ₹ 950 crore and ₹ 1,000 crore in revenue for MSM in the eighth season.
Media buyers agree that it has been a good year for IPL. According to C.V.L. Srinivas, chief executive officer (CEO) of GroupM, South Asia, a media investment firm, advertiser interest has been stronger in season eight compared with the previous edition.
This year, most of the inventory was pre-sold at a 10-15% hike in rates over the previous year. “It’s also the quality of cricket that is drawing viewers to the tournament this year," he added.
Some big brands lost out on the opportunity to ride on IPL because they took too long to decide whether to back the tournament, said Basabdatta Chowdhuri, CEO of Platinum Media, a part of Madison Communications Pvt. Ltd. “By the time, IPL was sold out," she said.
According to Chowdhuri, MSM may still have limited inventory left for the semi-finals and final, which may sell for ₹ 10-12 lakh for a 10-second spot.
Gupta of MSM is eyeing an ad rate of ₹ 20 lakh per 10-second spot for the little remaining inventory in the last four matches.
The previous season saw spots for these same matches sell at close to ₹ 16 lakh per 10 seconds.
Although the short gap between the cricket World Cup and IPL didn’t allow much time to build momentum around the Twenty20 league, an aggressive marketing campaign by MSM helped pull in viewers, said Indranil Das Blah, chief operating officer of KWAN Entertainment and Marketing Solutions.
“Besides, in the last two years, the property has stabilized," said Blah, who expects the property to grow at a rate of 15% or so over the next couple of years.
“Interestingly, this year, matches have been very closely contested. You still don’t know which teams will end up in the semi-finals, and that goes to show the quality of the game that’s on show this year," he said.