BCCI President Sourav Ganguly, in a letter to member state associations, has made his intent clear to host the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020—choosing September 26 to November 8 as a tentative schedule for the league.
As the cricket carnival, one of the most preferred tournaments for advertisers for its lucrative and profit-making opportunities, finds light at the end of a tunnel, it is yet to be seen what kind of interest it will generate for the crippled advertising industry amid Covid-19.
BestMediaInfo.com found out what advertisers are expecting out of this cricket festival and what kind of cost-negotiated deals will take place on the table. Advertisers also speculated the kind of brands that could make the most of the opportunity.
Arun Dhumal, BCCI Treasurer, last month had said the board was looking at a big revenue loss of nearly Rs 40 billion ($530 million), or even more in case IPL does not take place. The host broadcaster Star Sports had paid more than $220 million per year on an average for five years of TV rights up to 2022. But it was reportedly targeting $400 million of revenue in 2020 alone.
Apart from the revenue loss, a fact that cannot be ignored is that Covid-19 cases have gathered speed globally with more than four lakh lives lost already.
Amid all this, for advertisers that had lost almost one of a quarter’s revenue, Shashi Sinha, CEO, IPG Mediabrands India, believes IPL in festive season is a great idea.
Ashish Pherwani, Partner, M&E at Ernst & Young, said, “The absence of sports will probably increase the viewership of live sports, when it resumes, greatly. Advertisers will get reach, and it would be at a very efficient rates. Sporting events can provide huge reach across linear and digital which almost no other individual content can provide, and something national brands as well as brands wishing to create a big impact (new products, etc.,) can take advantage of.”
Earlier, IPL Governing Council Chairman Brijesh Patel had mentioned that IPL 2020 can be hosted behind closed doors, can be limited to fewer venues, can be taken overseas, and can be even played without international players. While the energy of the stadium will be missed by both the audiences and sportsmen alike, there are so many touch-points now for viewers to connect with IPL — TV, digital, fantasy gaming, etc.
Abhik Sanyal, Vice-President and Head, Consumer Marketing, DSP Mutual Fund, said that with its unparalleled reach and retention cutting across consumer segments, brands with spending power will come to the decision table and break the bank once again, bringing hope and a renewed sense of normalcy to India at large.
“It can’t be IPL alone that can revive the whole industry. But the platform will certainly give us an opportunity to revive the advertising and marketing energies. Not just because the event is back, but also because it’s a signifier of our attempts to come back to life as normal along with its given challenges,” said Dheeraj Sinha, Managing Director, India and Chief Strategy Officer, South Asia at Leo Burnett.
But RS Sodhi, Managing Director, GCMMF (Amul), believes that the advertising industry is facing huge losses not because of a mere IPL being cancelled or postponed but because of the Covid-19 lockdown. A lot of categories went through financial pressure, which might continue to happen. So, if IPL happens, they will not get half the rates what they were getting previously because inventories are the same and spending has come down.
Apart from this, B K Rao, Sr Category Head, Marketing, Parle Products, said that now since other channels have just started emerging and are planning to start shooting fresh content, they are going to go all out and launch their leading shows, possibly KBC, Indian Idol and Bigg Boss by then. So every broadcaster is likely to come up with fresh and interesting shows and command good price because they all had lost one quarter of revenue big time.
So, there is going to be strong line-up of shows and with IPL, there is a possibility of viewers getting divided, which was really not the case like this before.
Rao mentioned that the channel/broadcaster will not be able to command a similar rate. There will be a similar or a strong reduction in the pricing. Plus, by September, there will still be a lot of uncertainty and concerns related to the coronavirus.
There is every likelihood, according to Rao, that even title sponsors like Vivo might back out for reasons like the event not happening at the stipulated time, the situation isn’t all great and might not lead into the revenue generation.
So even advertisers who have a lot of monies and looking for means to advertise might be sceptical as they will want to analyse more judiciously if IPL is the right channel and time to reach the audience and these advertisers will look for the best deals and bargain.
So if IPL is thinking for some optimistic revenue offer, it shouldn’t forget that the capacity to spend has also reduced drastically.
“There will be a lot of bargaining, advertisers will expect to get maximum exposure with minimum spends. IPL revenue might not be the same, said Sodhi.
Rajiv Dubey, General Manager and Head of Media at Dabur, said, “The opportunity in sports has been missing for four months now and India has seen a dry spell for so many months. If it happens, it will come as a welcome change for the viewers in the country. And hence, a lot of opportunities for the advertisers as well. In terms of viewership, it should give a good number, and good bang for the buck because advertising recently has become very cost-effective.”
M.V.S. Murthy, Head, Marketing and Digital, Tata Asset Management, said the spends may not be as high as the previous seasons. Adverse times will draw in hope from a new category of advertisers to re-start a fresh cycle of marketing spends.
Before Covid-19, IPL and its franchises has already sold 80% of the sponsorship both on air and teams. But with the current situation, certainly a few brands will revisit the deals, keeping the budget and product and market challenges in mind, said Vijay Kaul, Deputy General Manager, Marketing Communication.
But surely new categories and brands will try to associate because nothing can replace such a high-engagement sporting event.
While advertisers with budgets will try to catch eyeballs, there will be concerns over what kind of brands and ad content are being broadcast in the middle of the outbreak.
IPL is not all about high-intensity cricketing action; it is also accompanied by some of the most impressive advertisements that manage to make a mark in the minds of viewers.
Variety of advertisers to be expected:
"The IPL is a great opportunity for gender and age-neutral products and services. It is one format of the game that gets everyone on the house together, albeit for cheering different teams. However, there might be a distilled set of advertisers this time around for Covid has left a deep imprint on some key industrial sectors. Having said, everything around food products and delivery services will make hay," Murthy said.
“Those categories that want to change eating habits in the country can definitely go on an overdrive as the lockdown has made us conscious of what we eat. There is an opportunity for apps and services that can deliver custom meal and exercise packages to up their ante. Milk supplements for kids, chocolates, breakfast cereals, etc., have an opportunity to showcase the value of conscious living in these stressful times. We could see a couple of new categories occupying prime time. Dishwashers, vacuum cleaners, personal grooming kits, washing machines, room fresheners, etc., can make an impact on the minds of the audience and egg them to become self-sufficient. Apart from this, Dukaan category will see a high-decibel pitch among the e-commerce outfits. They might run campaigns encouraging people to make weekly orders, showcase new categories and make a strong promise on speed of delivery. In the BFSI space, small banks can make a big impact, insurance, life and health in equal proportion, and mutual funds,” he explained.
Apart from this, brands will be planning to be active during the festive season to boost sales as it will be their peak season.
Though there are good regional properties around that time, every advertiser would want to be associated with IPL in one way or the other to maximise reach. The viewership is expected to be more than the previous season and it will create a lot of conversations. Every brand would try to create content around it to gain more engagement, said Kaul.
In a nutshell, advertisers expect IPL to bring some much-needed cheer and excitement to the current environment.
Is IPL that one shot that will fix all our woes altogether? Certainly not! But it signifies our resolve and attempts to get back to life and give it a deserving fight. IPL will certainly be a great boost to the energy of India, content availability and advertising as a platform.
From an advertising industry perspective, fresh live non-news content after a long time will be a really attractive value proposition, said Sanyal.