After selling the media rights of the Women’s Premier League for Rs 951 crore to Viacom18 and further earning Rs 4,667 crore from the auctioning of 5 WPL teams, BCCI has now announced that bids are open for WPL Title Sponsorship for the next five years (2023-2027) on receipt of payment of a non-refundable fee of rupees one lakh till February 9, 2023.
The inaugural season of WPL will be held between March 4-24, 2023. The brands' outlook seems to be positive towards associating with the Women’s Premier League’s breakout season.
According to Hema Malik, Chief Investment Officer, Mediabrands India, brands are excited and they have shown interest towards the WPL. Now, with a proper league being held and with so much buzz around it in terms of investment, prices and the whole team auction, it has potential even though it is a very fresh property and is at a nascent stage.
Although she added that while WPL will draw clients' attention, it will be largely driven by advertisers who seek a brand fitment platform rather than a media reach platform. “It's a very strong platform to tell a brand story if your brand is all about breaking stereotypes and women empowerment.”
Ramsai Panchapakesan, Senior VP and National Head - Integrated Media Buying, Zenith, said that the 2020 edition of the Women’s T20 Challenge had 5.34 billion minutes in viewership in India. IPL as a league is well established and it has a 15-season legacy to carry with its franchises, there is no question of infancy in IPL formats.
As per Sandeep Goyal, MD, Rediffusion, there is no reason for advertisers not to back the new league. It does take a little time to gain momentum but if the games are good, the advertisers will come flocking.
Even Jigar Rambhia, COO, Sporjo, said that WPL is a great opportunity for brands across all verticals. He said, “Cricket as a property has proven itself over the last many years. While it is women’s cricket which hasn’t been explored much as yet, brands should be excited to explore this and should create the first mover advantage.”
How should Viacom18 go about selling women IPL to brands?
Viacom18 should not restrict only to pure inventory sales but provide ad solutions in an integrated manner
Srinivas Rao, Chief Investment Officer, Wavemaker India, said that rather than restricting only to pure inventory sales, they should look at providing solutions to brands in an integrated way, make use of the cricketers as influencers as part of their pitch. In a nutshell, give value for money using all possible aspects.
Brands can get more eyeballs on a lesser budget
According to Zenith's Panchapakesan, “IPL is one of the world’s largest entertainment formats and WPL is an extension of the same. Since 2008, IPL men’s event has gradually gained fame and viewership and now it has reached a scale that requires decent investment to associate with. As far as entry cost is concerned, any aspiring brand would want to ride and associate with IPL. Women’s IPL comes at lesser entry outlay as IPL as a brand caters to approximately over 400 million audiences in the country.”
Viacom18 should focus on nurturing the property first
According to Mediabrands India’s Malik, there are typical sets of advertisers who advertise during IPL but WPL can get a completely new set of clients - like women's cosmetics and fashion brands. Viacom18 should focus more on nurturing this new property rather than just aiming to sell it at this point in time.
Women-centric brands to advertise strategically on WPL
Rediffusion’s Goyal also highlighted that Viacom 18’s main challenge is to ensure that women-centric brands advertise on WPL. The most eloquent challenge is when HUL advertises the brand Boost on women’s cricket rather than Dove or Lux or Glow and Lovely.
Advertisers to be similar to prime-time shows that women watch
“A lot of new-age and beauty category companies, FMCG companies, automobiles and telecom - all these are some of the verticals which do have a women-centric interest. The set of advertisers that Viacom18 will be going for will be very similar to what is being showcased right now in terms of large fiction shows that many housewives watch,” Elara Capital’s Senior Analyst Karan Taurani stated.
Viacom18 should focus on selling WPL just like any other sports property
Sporjo's Rambhia highlighted that Viacom18 should go in the same direction while selling WPL to brands just like any cricket property is sold. “There is enough merit in the property to be sold stand-alone and I don't think Viacom needs to do anything extra to sell this.”
Brands still deliberating choosing between JioCinema and Sports18
As per Elara Capital’s Taurani, “Brands will be willing to spend more money on Sports18 because if you look at the women audience, in terms of what they consume during the prime time fiction shows and everything put together, a lot of eyeballs have been focused on TV than on digital. Digital is more of a personal viewing medium and given cricket as content, it's always great to watch cricket on a larger screen.”
“I would not see that JioCinema can be a big growth driver for women's cricket. A lot of the audience would be more from the middle-aged women group and from Tier 1 and Tier 3 markets who aspire to watch women's cricket,” Taurani added.
Furthermore, he pointed out that the numbers of smart TV or connected TV households are very low in a country like India. So, over a period of time, more eyeballs can be followed digitally as well.
Even Malik’s vote went to TV because of its larger reach. “Television has more potential. There are higher chances of content being accessed more at home which makes TV the first choice.”
On the contrary, in view of Wavemaker India’s Rao, it’s difficult to predict it at this time. Given the scenario wherein the gap between the entry cost on both platforms might not be much, it would be difficult to say anything with confidence. However, if the brands wanting to ride on this property are female-centric, it might just be JioCinema that could rule the roost, in case it is otherwise, there might not be much to choose between the two in the first year.
According to Sporjo’s Rambhia all of it depends on the brand's objective. “I don’t think there would be merit to distinguish between digital and TV in the initial years. Depending on what the brand’s objective is, either of the mediums will be a good option,” he added.
According to Zenith's Panchapakesan, it all depends on the objective and the brands' seasonality to build a buzz in the market. Hence, funds are not FY driven as IPL/cricketing associations are planned well in advance and are not an ad hoc decision.
“IPL as an event with over 800 million internet users and 900 million TV penetration both stand an equal merit be it linear or OTT. Any specific target opportunities are possible with no spillover on OTT platforms compared to pan India presence of mainline broadcast,” he added.
WPL ad rates
The rates to advertise on WPL are yet not out in the market, but Elara Capital’s Taurani anticipates it to be similar to some of the large fiction-based shows that women watch around the prime time.
“Brands are excited to invest in this property. It could be at a marginal premium in the initial days and over a period of time if the property builds up then the pricing can improve further. Advertisers will be choosy, but it will all depend on what is the pricing that is being offered for this property because certainly, they would expect cheap discounts in the initial years,” he added.
“Ad rates will not be anywhere close to men's IPL because it is around Rs 15 lakh per 10 seconds slot for it. For this, the ad rates can be anywhere close to 3-6% of the men's IPL,” he further said.
As per Malik’s calculation, having deeper pockets, Viacom18 will price this property well to make it a lucrative option for advertisers to explore. “Viacom18 has not yet floated any ad rates as of now. If I go purely by the acquisition cost that they have invested, it's 1/50th of what the men's IPL was sold for. But, ad rates entirely depend on demand and supply.”
Brand categories that may advertise on women’s IPL
According to Elara Capital’s Taurani, personal care, fast-moving goods, women-centric brands in the auto vertical, something on the telecom or retail or beauty side are some of the categories of brands that can advertise on women’s IPL.
As per Sporjo’s Rambhia, there is no reason for any particular gender focused brand to explore women’s IPL. She said that cricket is viewed almost equally between males and females, therefore, all kinds of brands should explore this opportunity.
According to Zenith's Panchapakesan, CPG will have a skew considering the relevancy of players and their fandom base, otherwise, most categories of IPL will expect to explore Women’s Premier League too.