The tournament is said to have garnered about Rs 1,000 crore in its eighth season, and is expected to cross the Rs 1,200-crore mark this season. The network has unleashed a mega promotional and marketing campaign
BestMediaInfo Bureau | Mumbai | March 10, 2016
IPL 9 is all set to kick off from April 9 to May 29, 2016. It is the biggest property on television. And a money spinner. Sony Pictures Network, which has the telecast rights, is gung-ho. Refusing to divulge absolute numbers, Rohit Gupta, President, Network Sales, Sony Pictures Network India, said that the network was looking at about 15-20 per cent increase in revenues and is commanding a similar hike in the ad-rates.
While the cricket tournament has evolved from being just an event to establishing itself as a brand, the financial expectations of the network have also evolved with time. Last year, the channel demanded 10 per cent higher rates.
“We sell the event as one entity for all the channels that we simulcast on. That is the only way we can get an ad rate of about Rs 5-6 lakh per slot of 10 seconds. We have got about three presenting sponsors this year and are expecting around eight associate sponsors. Plus, there are categories which have built on the back of IPL. In season 3, handset brands like Micromax came on to ride the tourney. This time we have Vivo as the title sponsor. These companies fought off giants like Nokia and Samsung in previous years. Similarly, e-commerce brands are joining the IPL ride,” said Gupta.
Mega marketing & promotion
On the brand communication front, the channel has gone a step ahead. After building the cricket event for eight years, Sony Pictures Network has finally moved on to treating it as a ‘brand’ with their latest communication. For the ninth season of the tournament, the network has launched an ad campaign, ‘Ek India Happywala’, with no trace of cricket in the ad films.
The campaign will be spread across all media platforms including radio, outdoor, digital and television. This time around, the network has also planned a lot of corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities around the umbrella ‘Ek India Happywala’ campaign to take the communication a step further.
NP Singh, CEO, Sony Pictures Network India, explaining why there’s no mention of cricket or entertainment in the brand communication this time, said, “IPL is not an annual event anymore, it has grown as a brand. We need not tell people what it stands for. Now, it has started communicating with the people and we want it to be a messenger of happiness. It is what the country waits for and people plan their time around the tournament.”
SPN’s communication for IPL has moved from ‘Manoranjan ka Baap’ in 2008 to ‘Ek Desh. Ek Junoon’ in 2009 to ‘India Ka Tyohaar’ in 2015, with a clear message: Let’s spread the cheer.
Undoubtedly, the campaign has taken the brand a step ahead, but all the earlier campaigns did make the audience tap their feet, while this one touches an emotional chord. The ad film, so to say, implores every Indian in every corner of the world to build an empowered India – a nation that respects differences in its cultural fabric but at the same time rises above those differences to create an atmosphere of dignity and harmony: “A nation that our children will be proud to inherit. We have to act today to create a better tomorrow,” as mentioned by the network.
While Vivo is the title sponsor, Vodafone, Amazon and Oppo phones have come on board as presenting sponsor. The associate sponsors are Coca-Cola, Tata Sky and Freecharge, to name a few.
While everyone is talking of the much-hyped tournament losing viewers, the network’s officials have shown a lot of confidence saying that the reach of the tournament is increasing. However, compared to Set Max, the viewership on the sports channel of the network is still low for the biggest sports event of the country.
Prasanna Krishnan, EVP and Business Head, Sports Cluster, Sony Pictures Network India, clarified, “There is a legacy of IPL on Set Max and why will we try to interfere with that? Sony Six has its own set of loyal audiences, its own unique positioning and we are trying to build the channel on four sports – football, basketball, wrestling and tennis. Six and Max are not competing with each other for IPL viewership, ultimately, the viewer is coming to our own network.”
The marketing and promotions of IPL 9 will be on a larger scale than before, even outside the network. Neeraj Vyas, Senior EVP and Business Head, Sony Max Cluster, Sony Pictures Network India, proudly stated, “There are over 100 communications happening around IPL. We have our own campaign with a vast expanse. BCCI has its own marketing campaign and each team takes it to themselves for their part of promotions. In addition, brands are also talking about IPL. What else do we need for bringing a non-TV viewer to hop on to IPL?”
IPL 2016 will be aired in Hindi on Sony Max and Sony Six. In addition, Sony Six will also carry Tamil, Telugu and Bengali language feeds. Sony Six HD as well as the Sony ESPN cluster of channels will air the English language feed of Vivo IPL.