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In-depth: Telcos, consumer tech, auto and e-comm companies to lead advertising in IPL 2023

Irrespective of the startups pulling purse strings, macro-economic conditions, and fear of recession-induced challenges looming over the country, there would be takers for both JioCinema and Star Sports this IPL

This year’s battle between Star Sports and JioCinema for the upcoming IPL season will set the stage for brands to take calls for the coming years. IPL will begin on March 31, 2023.

Experts believe that auto, telecom, consumer tech, e-commerce and gaming companies will be the biggest advertisers this IPL season. 

JioCinema’s ad rates range between Rs 200-300 CPM (cost per thousand impressions). The ad rate for Connected TV is Rs 6 lakh per 10 seconds. Star Sport is asking for Rs 16-17 lakh for 10-second ads.

Rammohan Sundaram

Rammohan Sundaram, Country Head and Managing Partner – Integrated Media, DDB Mudra Group, said that auto, telecom and consumer tech companies will be the biggest advertisers this year. 

He further said, “The e-commerce companies will spend simply because there is growth in tier-2 and tier-3 cities and there it will always be TV-first advertising.”

E-commerce has now established itself as the second biggest category of Adex, growing in share from 4.9% in 2019 to 14% in 2022, as per Madison’s latest report on adex in 2023. 

Rajiv Dubey

Rajiv Dubey, Head of Media at Dabur, said that last year’s IPL was dominated by the new age companies, e-commerce companies. 

“This time the money will come from existing advertisers like automobile, FMCG and traditional advertisers. So, if Star makes entry costs easy for advertisers then it will make more sense for these people to be on IPL,” he added. 

This year, IPL would be available to viewers for free on JioCinema in 4K resolution, which in turn, will increase internet data consumption. 

Banking on the increase in data consumption during IPL, media planners expect telcos to be heavy spenders on digital, which would be seen pushing their 5G services and better data packs through marketing. 

According to news reports, telcos would be splurging around Rs 350-400 crore on marketing this IPL season. 

When it comes to TV, Rajiv Dubey, Head of Media at Dabur, said, “Star is already in the market and they are trying to woo the advertisers by offering them a smaller pack. They are trying their best to garner the advertisers who have fallen off the bandwagon as there were earlier during IPL.” 

According to a media head at a large telco, this year is going to be challenging for both JioCinema and Star Sports to onboard advertisers due to start-ups tightening their purse strings,  macroeconomic conditions, and fear of recession-induced challenges looming over the country; making advertisers very cautious of their ad spends. 

On the other hand, there are brands which hoard money throughout the year to spend it during IPL. “The India-Sri Lanka series on Star was not able to score more than 50-55% of the total inventory available. It’s not because Star was not able to sell, it means people are saving money for IPL,” said Raj Joshi, Head of Brand and Integrated Solutions, Onsurity. 

A media head at an FMCG brand said, “For start-ups, the capital that was earlier almost taken for granted is not so easily available today. Without that capital, advertising by start-ups will automatically get conservative.”

Even Sundaram said that while there would be a few start-ups spending on IPL, it's just that one might not have as many as there were last year.

According to a Madison report, there are only 11 start-ups in the top 50 advertisers list this year vs 15 last year, confirming that VC money is drying up. 

Even after that a lot of new-age brands with deep pockets will continue to advertise, said BK Rao, Senior Category Head at Parle Products. 

“When it comes to traditional advertisers, there are some brands that will, irrespective of the ad rates increase and macroeconomic pressure, continue to advertise,” added a media head of a large automobile company. 

When it comes to choosing between JioCinema and Star Sports to advertise on, a media strategist said, “It’s all about the strategy and how you want to approach the IPL. It depends on the adex outlay you have. If one has less money then maybe he/she will go for digital because then his/her brand can still be on IPL even when his/her brand doesn’t have the money to opt for TV.”

Shashank Srivastava

Shashank Srivastava, Executive Director – Sales and Marketing at Maruti Suzuki, commented, “Brands and advertisers need to be more careful in choosing the right mediums for their media investments and the decision should be driven by the brand objective as every medium plays a specific role in the marketing funnel and can be utilised to service a varied set of brand objectives.”

Although, Joshi of Onsurity pointed out that the increased penetration of JioCinema will make it further difficult for smaller advertisers to maximise ROI on the platform. 

He explained, “JioCinema has put out higher CPM rates than Hotstar. A brand coming with a smaller budget of around Rs 2-3 crore could have fetched visibility across at least 10-15 matches on Hotstar. But with the same budget on JioCinema, it will vanish in 3-4 matches because of its increased reach.”

Another media planner thinks that probably one would see gaming companies advertising more this IPL season.

Joshi also stated that 60% of the inventory is given away to sponsors only and brands like Dream11, Maruti and Ceat, which have been associated with IPL for all these years will continue to advertise on TV “because for them TV is still the bigger platform to reach out to their audience.”

While JioCinema has laid out close to Rs 400 crore for marketing IPL, there are still non-believers who will rush to TV only, said a media buyer.

FMCG brands started advertising during IPL in the last 4-5 years. When it comes to FMCG brands spending on IPL 2023, Dubey believes that the worst is behind us. 

“While there was a degrowth in July-September, we have seen positive signs in the last quarter and this quarter. Therefore, I hope that the coming quarter will be promising and that the macroeconomic conditions may not impact the ad spending of FMCG players during IPL. There is a lot of money in the system. I hope this quarter and next quarter are very bright for the country,” he said.

A recent Madison report stated that FMCG continues to be the largest category, but its share has dropped from 38% in 2020 to 32% in 2022. 

The report further highlighted that FMCG continues to be the largest contributor to TV adex with a share of 45%.

“Both JioCinema and Star Sports will save 2-3% of the inventory for the last matches. Both will  first bring the bigger packages out and sell them,” said a media head who has worked across India’s biggest advertisers. 

Strategically, both Jio and Star won’t make the tournament open for all the advertisers. Stating the reason for the same, he said, “IPL somehow is still an aspirational value for most of the brands in this country.”

Krishna Rao Buddha

According to Rao of Parle Products, while there would be takers for both TV and digital, there could be a skew towards Viacom18 because with JioCinema there is a possibility of better returns with a wider reach. 

As per media reports, JioCinema is planning to onboard around 500 advertisers this season. 

Rao said, “I have a feeling that in the first year, their aim is to acquire a lot of advertisers. People are anyway going to watch it since it’s free and AVOD. People watched FIFA as well since the quality was very good. There were glitches in the initial days but afterwards, it went smoothly.”

Last year, Disney Star's overall revenue from IPL was around Rs 4,000-4,100 crore.

This year is definitely going to be a nail-biting situation, but experts believe that there would be takers of both digital and TV and Star Sports will grow its revenue.

Dubey of Dabur commented, “Star Sports will be able to reach or even cross last year’s ad revenue numbers. Every year, IPL ultimately sells. It might not look promising at the moment but people are going to buy it. It looks difficult right now because the players who were there last year have disappeared and the existing advertisers will ask for lower rates. So, it is going to be a tough road ahead.”

This year, experts believe that there would be a rise in regional advertisers as well. Star Sports has created customised regional content with over 10 language feeds. Similarly, JioCinema would be streaming the match in 11-12 different languages including Bhojpuri and Gujarati.

“Regional advertising will also get a boost. There will be an addition of new advertisers from regional markets. Just like Star, there will be more opportunities for regional brands to onboard on JioCinema as well,” said Rao.

Last year, Disney+Hotstar earned about Rs 1,000 crore from IPL. According to news reports, JioCinema too is eyeing Rs 3,700 crore in revenue from IPL this year.

Last year, Disney Star (the official digital and broadcaster partner for IPL 2022) onboarded 15 broadcast and 13 digital sponsors for the tournament.

Star Sports onboarded 15 sponsors, including Dream11, Tata Corporate, Byju’s, Cred, Kamla Pasand, Asian Paints, PhonePe, Swiggy Instamart, White Hat Jr, Meesho, Spotify, Pepsi, and Mondelez. 

Disney+ Hotstar signed up Dream11 as the co-presenting sponsor followed by Tata and Cred as the ‘co-powered by’ sponsors besides Swiggy, Pristyn Care, Zepto, Ather Energy, Niyo, Parle Agro, Spotify, Livspace, L'Oréal, and Spinny have been signed-on as associate sponsors.

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