Advertisers show concern as IPL 4.0 sees 29% dip in ratings

MUMBAI: In victory, Dhoni‘s ‘Men in Blue‘ proved to be much more popular than his IPL franchise. While the cricket World Cup final notched up a whopping rating of 23.21, the match in which Dhoni won the Indian Premier League for his franchise Chennai Super Kings (CSK) was much less watched.

IPL fanatics may say that it is an unfair comparison to make as national pride will always occupy a higher pedestal. But even in IPL versus IPL, the third edition has won over the fourth. And since the fourth has raked in more moolah (Rs 10 billion) for the official broadcaster Max, advertisers are questioning whether the ad rates should be reworked or it is a stray case where the IPL suffered an immediate punch from the World Cup in which India triumphed.

The lopsided final, which saw CSK defend its crown against Royal Challengers Bangalore, rated a mere 6.96 TVR, according to data from TAM Sports for C&S 4+, six metros market. This is the first time that an IPL final did not reach double-digit ratings. Last year, the final between Mumbai Indians and CSK got a rating of 12.85 TVR.

What makes the tourney anti-climatic is that the first match with 7.77 TVR stayed as the most-watched of all.

Worse, the IPL could not manage an average TVR of 4 in the six-metro market, registering a 29 per cent drop in the average ratings over the third season. The 74 matches have averaged a TVR of 3.91 compared to a rating figure of 5.51 last year, 4.66 in the second season when the event was held in South Africa and 5.39 in the debut year. This, indeed, is the first time in the event‘s four-year history that the IPL has landed up with a tournament rating below 4.

Even the last four matches of IPL 4 could not draw higher ratings as they managed an average TVR of 6.1 compared to a TVR of 8.07 in the earlier year.

The only highpoint this season was that the total viewers who watched IPL have grown to 160.2 million, according to the All India market data from TAM Sports. In the last season, 143.7 million viewers had tuned in to the event.

Despite the decline in ratings, the IPL still remains a highly watched event. Maxus Global National Trading Head Sidharth Parashar notes that while the cost efficiencies were affected to an extent compared to last year, one cannot call the IPL a disappointment. "A rating of nearly 4 over such a long period is still a good performance. Having said that, the BCCI could have a re-look at the format. I think that the increase in the number of games led to a certain amount of monotony setting in. The BCCI could also look to have more matches during primetime. Also, the World Cup did have an impact in terms of viewer fatigue."

VivaKi Exchange COO Mona Jain believes advertisers would be more cautious when they negotiate next time. "They will not be so blasé and just put money down, expecting the IPL to automatically perform. This time the ratings did not show up as was expected. Advertisers will be looking for benefit. I also think that 74 matches are a stretch for the event. Advertisers will take a conscious call next year."

LG CMO LK Gupta says that while the company is satisfied at the level of visibility, the fact that the ratings came down was a disappointment. "Consumers spent a lot of their energy on the World Cup and there was fatigue. The World Cup had offered the highest class of cricket and there was a dampening effect to an extent when the IPL came along as it is about club against club. However, the IPL is still the biggest platform during this period. It is very much viable. I am satisfied at the delivery of cricket during the World Cup and IPL. It is not that fans are fed up of cricket. This has been an expensive but a good time for marketers."

Asked about the challenge of clutter, Gupta argues that this is something that one has to live with. "We took on-air sponsorship as we wanted the largest share of voice in our category. While competitors also advertised, their time was much less and so it wasn‘t an issue for us. The key is to creatively break out of the clutter. This time we focused on our LCD TVs. Our core audience was males."

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