The move signals broadcaster’s confidence in tapping pent-up demand for live sports
IPL, which is usually held in India during April-May, was deferred this year due to the pandemic and related restrictions
Star India Ltd said on Monday that it will sell advertising slots for the upcoming Indian Premier League (IPL) matches at the same rates set before the coronavirus outbreak, signalling the official broadcaster’s confidence in tapping pent-up demand for live sports during the festive season.
Gautam Thakar, CEO, Star Sports said Star India has seen significant interest from advertisers across categories. “IPL has always been the most-awaited national sporting event, now more than ever with the lack of live sports for such a long time. Despite the enormous demand and record-breaking viewership expected, for now, we are not increasing price and are keeping it the same as what was planned for March 2020," he added.
IPL, which is usually held in India during April-May, was deferred this year due to the pandemic and related restrictions. This year’s IPL will be held in the UAE for two months starting 16 September, and it will be played behind closed doors. With matches starting at 7.30pm and Star Sports and its streaming platform Disney+ Hotstarbeing the only ways to watch the IPL, the network is confident of setting a new viewership record.
Star’s asking price for the live match inventory is ₹12 lakh for a 10-second slot. It is currently offering bundled (television and Disney+ Hotstar) deals along with individual TV/digital slots as well. As of March, the network has signed 12 sponsors and 80 advertisers. However, no brand names have been disclosed yet.
Apart from familiar categories such as consumer durables, e-commerce, digital payment firms and food delivery apps, the network has also seen interest from new advertisers from categories such as two-wheeler firms, online education and mobile gaming platforms. It is yet to announce these associations.
Star has also extended its pre-match shows from 60 to 90 minutes, allowing brands to buy ad slots for them as live match inventory is finite and more expensive.
The network is working on ways to leverage technology to bring fans virtually in the stadium and allow friends to watch a match together on the Disney+ Hotstar app.
IPL is the biggest cricket property for Star India, fetching over ₹2,000 crore ad revenue in 2019. It is hoping to cross this revenue figure this year, despite the covid-19 disruption. A big chunk of this revenue comes from Chinese smartphone brands such as Vivo, Oppo and OnePlus who used to make a splash during the T20 league. With the ongoing anti-Chinese sentiment, there has been no confirmation on their advertising plans on IPL so far.
Earlier this month, Vivo pulled out as the title sponsor of this year’s IPL following criticism on social media about a Chinese brand being associated with the event.
The big plus for Star is the long advertising hiatus for most brands, and the pre-Diwali window, but the critical issue in this entire pricing gambit is the Chinese angle, said Sandeep Goyal, chairman of Mogae Media, a Mumbai-based marketing and communication agency.
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