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KKR and e-commerce sites win IPL 7

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MUMBAI: As fans chanted Korbo Lorbo Jitbo (We will do, we will fight, we will win ), Manish Pandey’s 94 off 50 balls not only ensured Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) putting up a brave fight, it saw them seize the IPL cup from Kings XI Punjab in a nail-biting finish.

However, this IPL not only brought smiles to the Knight Riders but also to broadcasters Multi Screen Media-owned Sony Max and Sony Six that aired the tournament.

Before the seventh edition started, naysayers said not many advertisers would be interested in the property since India was going through the mother of all elections. To make things worse, the first phase of IPL was held outside India. And when Sony Entertainment Television president Rohit Gupta said that the broadcaster would charge Rs 4.9-5 lakh for a 10-second slot, a 20 per cent jump from last year’s Rs 4.25 lakh, eyebrows were raised.

However, the story went in the other direction. Despite the T20 tourney being played in the UAE and the ninth phase of the polls coinciding with the matches back home, the popularity of the tournament wasn't affected and the broadcaster charged as much as Rs18-20 lakh for a 10 seconder for the final match. “Last year, we had charged around Rs 15 lakh for the final match. So, the ad revenue has only gone up. One must understand that IPL is a mature property and shouldn’t talk about not attracting advertisers,” says Gupta.

He went on to say, “Take a look at the English Premier League (EPL); it has been on for more than 20 years and it still attracts audiences and advertisers. Wonder why in India, people don’t understand that IPL is a yearly phenomenon and is here to stay for a long period.”

The television viewership too went up by five per cent for the first 54 matches, from 175 million during IPL-6 to 184 million this year.

“There is no risk to any advertiser,” said Gupta, while highlighting the fact that a big chunk of broadcasters' revenues would be contributed by e-commerce companies.

Apart from the big advertisers - Vodafone, Karbonn, Havells, Perfetti and Marico – this year saw many e-commerce companies, especially Amazon, which launched its first TVC during IPL and others like Flipkart, Myntra, Quikr and Snapdeal piggybacked on the tournament.

Says GroupM ESP national director - Entertainment, Sports & Live Events Vinit Karnik, “A lot of e-commerce sites associated themselves with various teams. Also, there were a lot of on ground and on air activations so it won’t be wrong to say that this time one product category did leverage the league.”

The reason behind the phenomenon is the intense competition in the online retail segment. And as every player tries to pitch something different be it in terms of product line or delivery model, the mass media property – IPL – becomes the perfect battle ground.

“The IPL has got the reach and so it has delivered eyeballs to the brands. And the result has been achieved. With sites fighting tooth and nail what will be a better platform than IPL to reach out to as many as people?” says MEC national planning director Zubin Tatna.

Havas Media India MD Mohit Joshi agrees on the fact that with booming online retail sector competition is only going to increase. “IPL as a format doesn’t let one innovate much but the brands always get what they want from it, if used appropriately.”

“E commerce sites did dominate the advertisements this time as well as offline enough buzz was created. So, one shouldn’t be surprised if around 40 per cent of the revenue comes from this category,” he adds.

However, Tatna feels otherwise. “You see a Quikr or an OLX ad on television anyhow so I wouldn’t agree with the fact e-commerce sites dominated only IPL.”

The nerve-wrenching battle

The tourney's star cricketer this year, Glen Maxwell, along with his Punjab teammates David Miller, Virendar Sehwag and George Bailey managed to score a paltry nine runs between the four in an edge-of-the-seat finale. For KKR, it’s been smooth sailing with the final being their ninth win a row. This puts them in the league of Chennai Super Kings (whom they had defeated in the final two years ago) as multiple IPL winners.

However, to their credit, Punjab were neck and neck with KKR so much so it could have been anyone's match till the very end. Wriddihan Saha's innings was a fitting precursor to the well fought finish. 

Apart from Maxwell's disappointing performance, this season’s highest run scorer Robin Utthappa too did not match expectations as Piyush Chawla was left to win the game for KKR. But Utthappa did win the Orange Cap. Man of the match Pandey said that winning the IPL was like the “icing on the cake” after winning the Ranji trophy, Irani trophy and Vijay Hazare trophy.

KKR captain Gautam Gambhir said they never thought they would win this IPL. He also went on to add that winning at the Chinnaswamy Stadium was what the team fancied, considering the fact that it is a small ground. Incidentally, the stadium also hosted the very first IPL game in 2008. Gambhir told indiatoday.in, “This is a ground where it is very difficult to defend. We wanted to get it down to five overs, 50 or 60 to get. Manish played a fantastic innings.” Finally, Punjab’s late strikes could not dither KKR from taking the trophy home a second time with 200 runs.

As for KKR, Kolkata Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee congratulated the team on Facebook. A post she put up on the social networking site said: “Congratulations…. KKR….Congratulations…Sharukh.” She also congratulated Saha for his “brilliant performance.”

In 2012, the Banerjee government had come under sharp criticism for showering expensive gold chains and gold medals as part of the grand felicitation programme held in honour of KKR’s IPL win. But this time around, as Eden Gardens prepares for another such programme, it will be interesting to see what ‘Didi’ has to offer the boys in purple.

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