IPL's ratings make it tough for Max to post ad rev growth

MUMBAI: The fifth season of the Indian Premier League is settling down to lower ratings than its previous edition, making it tough for Multi Screen Media to protect its ad revenue of Rs 9 billion from the telecast of the event on Max.

The first 27 matches of the IPL have garnered a viewership of 3.53 TVR compared to 3.88 TVR a year ago, according to Tam data (for CS4+ TG, All India market). The cumulative reach has also gone down from 140 million last year to 137 million.

Despite improvement in competitiveness with several close finishes, the ratings for the IPL have gone down. For the first seven matches, the viewership was 3.76. This further fell to average TVR of 3.65 for 16 matches.

The IPL, however, continues to be a profitable property for MSM and cricket‘s highest revenue earner. “Media may file whatever they want to, but if you look at the top 10 programmes you will get your answer,” said IPL CEO Sundar Raman.

According to GMR Sports marketing head Hemant Dua, the drop in viewership is a natural progression in the life of a sporting league. He also believes that people have unfair expectations from the IPL.

“I think the IPL is maturing as a league and there will be times when the ratings will plateau a bit or will increase but overall the IPL has done well this season and attendance for matches has been good. The expectation from the IPL is high but one should understand that the ratings are strong enough," said Dua.

The fragmentaion of the Indian media landscape has not helped the IPL to better its ratings this year. According to MEC South Asia COO Shubha George, the IPL ratings have been in line with expectations.“We had predicted a drop in viewership, but if you look at the ratings they are still better. After all, which property will give you a viewership of 3.5 TVR and a pan-India reach,” he said.

MSM has, however, stayed firm in not dropping the rates as it fears that it will make it difficult to up the rates next year if the benchmark is set low this time. Max has six sponsors on board who are forking out between Rs 450,000-500,000 per 10 second spot. The broadcaster has managed to sell only 70 per cent of inventory with a large part of the FCT being used for self-promotion.

Attempts to reach MSM president network sales, licensing & telephony Rohit Gupta proved futile till the time of filing this report.

For MSM to substantially boost its ad revenues from the IPL, ratings will have to improve. "They won‘t command a premium on average rating of 3.5. But the IPL as a property still remains a valuable proposition," said a media analyst who did not want his name to be revealed.

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