TV advertisers stare at slow pitch as IPL begins today

Star Sports is selling ad spots at Rs 15-16 lakh per 10 seconds, while the rates on connected TV are Rs 6-6.5 lakh per 10 seconds.

Star, Jio, IPL, OTT, Viacom 18, Star Sports
Brands continue to leverage the IPL.

With the 16th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) to be streamed live on Viacom 18’s OTT platform JioCinema, it could be a slow pitch for television ad rates.

Viacom 18 had acquired the digital rights of the tournament for Rs 23,758 crore for the 2023-27 period. JioCinema will be live-streaming the game free of cost in a dozen languages and is believed to have bagged ad deals for up to Rs 1,000 crore.

Star Sports is selling ad spots at Rs 15-16 lakh per 10 seconds, while the rates on connected TV are Rs 6-6.5 lakh per 10 seconds. Last year, advertisers reportedly paid around Rs 15-18 lakh for a 10-second slot.

However, Star Sports is said to be closing in on ad revenues of Rs 2,000-2,200 crore and the pickings could get better as the season progresses.

While Star has roped in 13 marquee sponsors and over 70 brands for television so far, media reports say JioCinema has roped in 13 streaming sponsors.

Disney Star is committing 500 million viewers, say industry insiders, while JioCinema is promising a similar 450-500 million.

Ad rates for the digital mode are running at `200- 250 CPM (cost per thousand impressions) and at `300 or higher for targeted advertising, senior media buying executives indicated to FE. Last year, they cost anywhere between `199 and `277 per CPM on digital modes. Disney Star had roped in 15 sponsors for IPL 2022 for the TV broadcast and 13 for the digital offering, earning advertising revenues of Rs 1,500 crore. Star’s live broadcast on TV had fetched it `3,500 crore.

With JioCinema is offering a free digital viewing experience, Disney Star has been upping its game. The broadcaster will be screening select games on its FTA (free to air) channels to drive up viewership and reach. The entire tournament will be broadcast live across nine language feeds with separate feeds for statistics and highlights.

From signing up stars like Virat Kohli and Ranveer Singh to beefing up its expert panel with decorated names like Kevin Pietersen, Danny Morrison, Sunil Gavaskar, Jacques Kallis, Mithali Raj and Virender Sehwag, Star is bringing its A-game to the IPL.

JioCinema, not to be outdone, has roped in master blaster Sachin Tendulkar in its latest promo campaign for the IPL.

The split between TV and digital poses new challenges for advertisers, who till the last season, could seal a combined deal with Disney Star across Star Sports channels and Disney+Hotstar.

Moreover, brands today are grappling with smaller budgets. As Amol Dighe, CEO, investment and new business at Madison Media, observed, marketers are feeling the stress of a weak market sentiment. “The first quarter of this year has been rather subdued and IPL is not insulated from the larger market conditions. Naturally, we’re not seeing brands lining up to spend huge amounts this season like we did the previous years, whether it is on TV or digital,” Dighe said. Startups, especially edtech, are a case in point.

Nonetheless, brands continue to leverage the IPL. Sports marketing firm ITW Catalyst, for example, announced it has put together over 20 sponsorship deals for multiple teams worth over Rs 150 crore for brands like Coca-Cola, Mahindra, Hindware and ITC. These are across in-stadia advertising, franchise sponsorships, linear and digital marketing. Beer brand Bira 91, too, recently announced its partnership with five IPL teams – Delhi Capitals, Mumbai Indians, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Kolkata Knight Riders and Sunrisers Hyderabad. Ankur Jain, CEO and founder, Bira 91, explains that the partnership has two goals – to boost brand recognition and expand reach, while also elevating the fan’s cricket-watching experience. The brand’s strategy for this association will include a mix of on-ground and digital engagement, says Jain.

Given the smaller budgets, companies are unsure about whether to invest in TV or digital, points out Anupriya Sapra, co-founder and COO of ITW Mediaworx. “Every brand has its unique objectives and these depend entirely on the brand and marketing goals. The number of advertisers may be more on digital owing to the low entry cost and more tailored opportunities available. However, average deal sizes will be higher on TV as has been the trend so far,” remarks Sapra.

Though digital viewership expectations for IPL are high, and although Anil Jayaraj, CEO of Viacom18 Sports, expects it to exceed TV viewership numbers this season, experts believe it will take some time before that happens.

Karan Taurani, SVP at Elara Capital, asserts that if there is any threat to TV from digital, it will only happen after at least three years since TV continues to offer a strong mass proposition.

Among Star’s key sponsors are Dream11, Asian Paints, Airtel, Mountain Dew, Britannia and Cadbury Dairy Milk.

Among JioCinema’s 13 streaming sponsors are Mondelez, Dream11, Parle, Puma and ITC. The exact number of spot buyers is unknown.

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First published on: 31-03-2023 at 05:45 IST
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