Advertisers get ready for IPL slugfest

Will the repackaged 11th season, promising higher reach, translate into bigger returns for Star India and advertisers?

cricket paytm, ipl
For Paytm, cricket has been a key element in its brand journey.

As the most eagerly awaited cricketing extravaganza starts tomorrow, around 80 leading brands have come aboard with Star India to make the most of the Indian Premier League. With a focus on further localising the tournament, Vivo IPL 2018 proposes to connect with audiences in six different languages — Hindi, English, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Bangla — in addition to leveraging the combined reach of digital and television.

The 11th season of IPL will be live-streamed on Hotstar as well as TV; Star boasts of reaching 700 million fans across TV and digital in India.

So, while Star India has considerably repackaged the IPL, will the higher reach translate into profits? The broadcaster expects to earn around Rs 1,800 crore from advertising this year.

“I expect Star India to garner around Rs 1,400-1,500 crore in advertising this year. The effective ad rates for IPL are hovering around Rs 9-9.5 lakh per 10-second slot. The current ad rates make sense as the cost of acquiring the property has also gone up by 200-250%,” says Sandeep Goyal, vice chairman, The Mogae Group.

During IPL10, the ad rates were around Rs 6 lakh per 10 seconds.

The addition of languages like Tamil, Telugu and Kannada with live telecast on Hotstar and innovative stuff like Action Replays sold to Amity, can surely bring incremental and additional revenue for Star India, feels Anita Nayyar, CEO India and South Asia, Havas Media Group. “This is the first season and Star has five years to go. It will be able to recover the cost but one cannot say how profitable it will be. The sooner it is able to monetise, the closer it will be to profit,” she advises.

Show me the money!

An average IPL match has an ad inventory of 2,000 seconds. But Star India is likely to squeeze in 2,200-2,300 seconds, according to experts. With the addition of regional languages and a local focus, the broadcaster is expected to garner around Rs 200 crore in incremental revenues.

“The reach of IPL is expected to be 15-20% higher than the previous year. On top of that, consumption on mobile will go through the roof as data cost has come down drastically,” predicts Shankar Nath, CMO and SVP, Paytm.

While some brands have dropped out of IPL this year due to the hike in ad rates, some others are not only paying a premium to advertise in the 50-day event, but are also planning activation around IPL to stand out. “It is not the largest spender that gets the most recall; it is the smartest approach to communication that works,” notes Vivek Srivatsa, head — marketing, PVBU, Tata Motors. While the brand had associated with IPL over the last couple of years through Royal Challengers Bangalore, this is first time it is coming as a central sponsor.

“The exclusivity of the partnership is that we are on-ground and on-stadium. Tata Nexon will be displayed across all nine venues. In addition to that, there will be the Nexon Super Striker of the Match award for every match,” he adds.

Brands clearly favour on-ground sponsorships for better visibility. According to GroupM’s report Sporting Nation In the Making, on-ground sponsorship in cricket crossed the magic $100 million mark for the first time last year, closing 2017 at Rs 669 crore ($101 million) from Rs 563 crore ($83 million) in 2016.

The present and the future

Not only Tata, but fbb — which became an official partner last year after FreeCharge surrendered the final year of its two-year on-ground IPL sponsorship rights over to the Future Group — will also continue its association.

This year, Future Group has come aboard as an associate sponsor with Star India. “While fbb and Tasty Treat brands will be part of the on-ground sponsorship, Big Bazaar will be the key sponsor on TV and digital. Last year, on-ground association was restricted to fbb,” informs Sadashiv Nayak, CEO, food business, Future Group. “On-ground sponsorships allow us to conceptualise interesting activations. For example, last year we did the ‘Most Fashionable Player of the Match’,” he adds.

In addition there will be TVCs from Big Bazaar, Tasty Treat biscuits and fbb. Future Group plans to spend Rs 400 crore overall at a group level in consumer engagement over a period of four years and brands like Tasty Treat are expected to get a front-load of that budget right away.

For Paytm, cricket has been a key element in its brand journey. Paytm is the Official Umpire Partner of Vivo IPL for the next five years — an on-ground association. The umpires will have Paytm branding on the attire, and along with that there will be the Paytm Fair Play award and third empire referral on the Paytm screen. “The on-ground visibility also gets broadcast irrespective of media — TV or digital,” says Nath of Paytm.

Another associate sponsor, Dream 11, plans to use both TV and digital. “Our spends will be proportionally allocated. As marketers, we have been advertising on Hotstar since last year,” says Vikrant Mudaliar, chief marketing officer, Dream11.

IPL’s 2017 edition garnered 411 million viewers as per BARC India data. Erstwhile television rights holder Sony Pictures Networks India clocked advertising revenues of more than Rs 1,200 crore from IPL10 in net ad sales compared to Rs 1,020 crore in 2016.

Whether this year’s edition delivers in terms of advertiser expectations, only time will tell.


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