As the Indian Premier League, or IPL, reaches its climax, the advertising rates for the ongoing 20-over cricket tournament have shot through the roof. Multi Screen Media Pvt. Ltd (MSMPL) the exclusive television broadcaster for the event in India, is charging brands seeking to tap into the popularity of the event a 150% premium over the rates at which it had begun selling the event.

Viewers’ delight: Action from an IPL Twenty20 match between Deccan Chargers and Kings XI Punjab. Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters

When IPL began, 10-second spots were available for Rs4-4.5 lakh whereas MSMPL now wants Rs10-12 lakh for such spots during the semi-finals and the final to be played between 22 and 24 May.

“We are charging in excess of Rs10 lakh for the last three matches, which include the semi-finals and the final match," said Rohit Gupta, president, network sales for MSMPL. “We are in the process of finalizing deals."

Gupta did not disclose the names of advertisers involved in these negotiations. He, however, said the network has only 100 seconds left to sell per match. The total commercial airtime per match is around 2,000-2,200 seconds.

While some media buyers said the new rates were too steep, at least four senior executives from top media buying agencies said brands might still hop on board given the event was hugely popular among viewers and the semi-finals and the final are likely to record impressive viewership.

“Although it is not impossible for IPL to get advertisers to agree to those rates, I would say Rs7-8 lakh for 10 seconds would be a more realistic asking price," said Ravi Kiran, chief executive, South East and South Asia for Starcom MediaVest Group.

The executives also pointed out that unlike last year, when there was enough advertising time, or ad inventory, available to be sold, this year MSMPL has kept few spots to sell and hence, that demand may exceed supply.

“There are always such advertisers who may not want to be present throughout the tournament but are ready to pay the premium to be there on the final matches when the viewership is maximum," said Shubha George, managing director of Mumbai-based media agency Mediaedge:cia, a part of GroupM India Pvt. Ltd.

Rates for advertising during the telecast the matches have risen over the past few weeks. Last week, MSMPL was selling last minute spots at Rs5.5 lakh for 10 seconds. Spiralling rates do not seem to have curbed the appetite of advertisers and several new companies such as GlaxoSmithkline Consumer Healthcare Ltd, Sony India, Tata Motors Ltd, Britannia Industries Ltd and Wipro Ltd signed new deals with MSMPL in the third week of the tournament that began in early April. “There are some advertisers who were waiting to see how IPL performed on the viewership front. Since the ratings are healthy, new ones have come on board and several existing advertisers have also extended their deals," said Gupta.

While this year’s edition of IPL has registered lower television rating points, or TRPs (they indicate the percentage of people watching a programme for a certain amount of time), than last year’s, the total number of viewers tuning in has still been higher than last year. The ratings have also been the highest across all genres on television.

IPL even scored over the news channels which were expected to attract more viewers on account of the general election. According to data released by Audience Measurement and Analytics Ltd, a Mumbai-based audience measurement agency, IPL’s viewership was higher than all the news channels put together even on 16 May, the day votes cast in elections to the 15th Lok Sabha were counted. According to this data, average gross rating points on counting day for English and Hindi news channels was 3.3 and 11.3, respectively, against 59.8 grossed by Max, the channel that broadcasts the IPL matches.

This data was collated from households with access to cable and satellite television in Hindi-speaking markets and considered viewers above the age of 15.

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