With a little over a month to go, official broadcaster Sony Pictures Networks India (SPN) has already closed 90% of its advertising inventory for the ninth season Indian Premiere League (IPL). Ten-second ad spots have been sold for Rs 5.5 crore and latecomers will need to pay 10-15% more.
Rohit Gupta, president, SPN, claimed that typically such levels of inventory are sold two weeks prior to the event. Eyeing a revenue of Rs 1,200 crore for IPL-9, SPN had hiked ad rates by 15% this year, as reported by The Financial Express in December, 2015.
In 2015, the official broadcaster clocked advertising revenues of about Rs 1,000 crore. IPL-8 had seen a 20-25% hike in viewership over the previous season, as well as an increase in the number of title and main sponsors. Marred by a spot-fixing controversy in IPL 7, SPN (then known as Multi-Screen Media or MSM) had generated ad revenue worth Rs 600-Rs 700 crore.
Apart from Vivo’s title sponsorship, Sony has got on board three presenting sponsors – Vodafone, Amazon and Oppo Mobile India. Other sponsors include Coca-Cola, Freecharge, Tata Sky and Ceat. It is interesting to note how Coca-Cola features in this list, shortly after PepsiCo backed away from IPL a few months back due to controversies surrounding the property. The sponsorships have been firmed up for anything between R40-R65 crore, depending on the stage negotiated. “We are selling 10-second ad spots for R5.5 crore. And there will be a 10-15% hike for latecomers,” adds Gupta, who is confident of the success of the cricketing league’s ninth season.
Sponsors like auto, FMCG and e-commerce companies (which were major advertisers last year) are once again bullish on the tournament. However, another category which is upping its ante this season is the mobile handset firms, with a number of Chinese brands slated for launch in India. “After the mobile handset brand Micromax captured the market on the back of IPL a few years ago, newer and cheaper Chinese phones are now vying the property to capture the market. They aren’t hesitating to shell out a large sum of moolah,” says a media planner who wishes to remain anonymous.
Claiming that IPL is at par with global sports leagues like EPL, Gupta believes that the property is a sure-short way of reaching a wide range of viewers and hence, now IPL is a major part of an advertiser’s marketing budget. “IPL has gone through its share of ups and downs, but today it guarantees a certain viewership which isn’t possible elsewhere,” asserts Gupta.
Discarding the fatigue factor due to numerous cricketing events in 2016, like the India-Australia series, Asia Cup and the World Cup T20, the network is all geared up for IPL as its post-analysis show, Extraa Innings, and other supporting properties have been booked completely.
With Lodha Committee’s recommendation – of ensuring that only breaks taken by both teams for drinks, lunch and tea should be used to air ads, as is practice internationally – under review, Sony wants to piggyback as much as possible on advertising. “If it is implemented, this recommendation will hugely impact us because the whole system will be altered,” says a concerned Gupta.