“IPL 8 will be bigger and better in every aspect including brand valuation”: Rohit Gupta

MUMBAI: The country hasn’t yet recovered from the celebrations of India’s victory over Pakistan in the World Cup and they are being served with another dose of cricketing enthusiasm with Indian Premiere League (IPL). India discard Yuvraj Singh became the highest paid player in 2015 Pepsi IPL players auction as Delhi Daredevils paid Rs 16 crore to earn his services. The multimillionaire league will start on 8 April in Kolkata.

This time round, Multi Screen Media (MSM) will hike the ad rates by 10 - 15 per cent for the league’s matches. Emphasising on the commercial aspect, Multi Screen Media (MSM) president Rohit Gupta tells, “We will have a 10 to 15 per cent hike in the ad rate this time too. We cannot increase the number of advertisers as our inventory follows certain guidelines laid down by the Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI).”

Speaking on the eighth edition of IPL, Gupta adds, “IPL has established itself as a stable format now like any other major sporting league in the world. There is not much room for improvisation when it comes to the format of the game. The tournament has seen tough times. Last year IPL was organised in the midst of general elections and everyone thought the viewership will take a blow but the ratings say a different story. The fact that we successfully traveled through all the tough times, proves IPL’s establishment as a mature tournament.”

The tournament starts only 10 days after the World Cup and when questioned about the fatigue factor of viewers and advertisers Gupta replies, “This World Cup is highly different from 2011 edition when the matches were played in the Indian subcontinent. Spectators went to the ground to cheer for the national team. In this edition of the World Cup that’s not happening since the matches are being played in Australia and New Zealand. India has already played against Pakistan and for many cricket lovers the tournament is over there. Interest will be high for other India matches, which comes once a week and a point that has to be noted is none of the matches are being played in the primetime. Overall fatigue is not at all an issue or concern when it comes to viewership or commercial interest. During IPL you get a competitive match every day and need not wait for a week.”

The digital rights for IPL have been bagged by MSM’s competitor Star India’s VOD platform Hotstar. When questioned about the impact of that on viewership, Gupta asserts, “TV viewership does not get affected by the digital platform. If someone has the option of choosing one of the two mediums, the obvious choice would be television. The digital platform helps building curiosity and as a result increases viewership. Moreover in India, we have a lot of issues like bandwidth and lack of proper 3G network.”

Necessary ignition was offered by the IPL players’ auction where Yuvraj Singh and KC Cariappa emerged as two shocking acquisitions. The flagship tournament is already being talked about and hence sets the stage for marketing. Throwing light on the network’s promotional strategy, Gupta says, “We are launching a huge marketing campaign, which would be different and bigger from last year. IPL is our biggest asset and we need to back it with proper promotional activities. It will be a 360 degree campaign across all mediums and it is expected to go on air by the end of February.”

IPL may be a platform for new talent but it has been the centre of a lot of controversies in recent times. The Supreme Court of India had to intervene to fight misdemeanour of many officials. When questioned about the integrity of the tournament, Gupta asserts, “BCCI is an established organisation and it will certainly take care of the integrity. International cricket stars play in the tournament, spectators love it and advertisers are interested in it, that’s all that matters. By mid-March we will have a packed ad inventory.”

“IPL season 8 will be bigger and better in every aspect including brand valuation. We will grow our viewership and successfully earn good ratings,” Gupta adds.

Media buyers are also upbeat about the tournament. Helios Media managing director Divya Radhakrishnan says, “IPL has a different set of spectators and there is no possibility of fatigue ruining the enthusiasm of the tournament. Whereever there is viewership, there is advertisement and IPL is one of the highest viewed cricket tournaments, which automatically make it a tournament of high commercial interest.”

Maxus managing director Kartik Sharma adds, “The first two or three matches will decide the fate of the tournament. They have to be strong and well fought bouts. If we get last ball finishes and super overs in the initial stages of the tournament it will evolve as a big thing. It’s all about entertainment at the end of the day and if IPL manages to attract spectators and viewers, advertisers will automatically follow.”

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