Rs 1500 crore riding on World T20 & IPL's back to back play out in 2016

MUMBAI: Come 2016 and merely five days separate the two flagship cricketing extravaganzas - the ICC World T20 and the Indian Premier League (IPL). Even as World T20 draws to a close on 3 April, IPL takes to the ground on 9 April and riding on the two tourneys in terms of advertising spends by multiple brands is approximately Rs 1500 crore.

While one tournament invokes national pride, the other appeals to emotions at a more regional level. The two tournaments will be played over a span of 80 days, which in turn poses the threat of fatigue.

On one side, Star India will be pulling all stops in order to rake in the highest possible revenue. The broadcaster had an average 50 over World Cup played in Australia and New Zealand, which generated ad revenue of approximately Rs 400 crore. On the other hand, there’s Sony Pictures Networks (SPN) India (erstwhile Multi Screen Media), which has two more editions of the IPL with them to break even and close with a neat profit. The remaining two seasons will be very crucial for SPN India’s balance sheets. It should be recalled that MSM acquired the rights of the tournament for a period of 10 years in 2007 after dishing out a whopping $1 billion.

Ad spends on the upcoming ICC T20 World Cup can go up to Rs 400 crore including digital as per estimates of a senior media planner. "At the same time, if Sony goes by their normal 10 per cent ad rate hike even for the 2016 edition of IPL, they should manage to generate close to Rs 1100 crore, which I think they would be happy with," the planner adds. Similar estimates were drawn by multiple other media planning executives that spoke to.

So when Rs 1500 crore is on the line for two major cricketing events, will the back to back scheduling eat into one another’s ad pie?

Havas Media Group, India & South Asia CEO Anita Nayyar is of the opinion that it will not. "I don’t think the schedules of either of the tournaments will effect the advertising spends they are expecting. Whether it’s ICC World T20 or IPL season 9, there are different clients focused on them. IPL specially enjoys a different section of advertisers, who keep an eye on it in well in advance. Even with the common advertisers, it’s a question of their marketing and advertising budgets. Marketers plan their spends for a year in advance after looking at the calendar. I am sure they have prepared for both the cricketing events," she says.

Dentsu Aegis Network South Asia CEO and chairman Ashish Bhasin concurs with Nayyar. "I don’t think that the two tournaments scheduled one after another will have an affect on their ad revenues. This is not the first time that it’s happening. Often we do see tournaments like the IPL leading to a different sporting event or vice versa. Marketers and advertisers who look forward to such events plan their budgets and strategies accordingly in advance," he says.

IPL and World T20 are completely different ball games when it comes to ad spends according to Bhasin. He says, "World Cup invokes following and fandom for team India. While it appeals to everyone, it is when the India matches air that our audience is mostly interested. That is why you see peaks of viewership for India matches, which reduce drastically if India is out of the tournament early. Whereas IPL retains the general interest of all. Marketers are aware that IPL is prolonged entertainment. It is not just the game but all the action around it. Therefore, advertisers strategise for IPL and World T20 in a different way."

The most consistent team of the IPL - Chennai Super Kings (CSK) owned by N Srinivasan promoted India Cements will not be a part of the tournament courtesy a two year ban imposed on it. The two year ban has also been imposed on Rajasthan Royals (RR). The Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) has added two new franchises in the interim period. The players of the two banned teams thereby went under the hammer and after following the bidding process, the two new teams - Pune and Rajkot - absorbed them. So cricket fans will get to see their idols albeit wearing a different coloured jersey and maybe even in a new role.

When queried as to how the absence of CSK and RR teams will impact the brand value of the tournament, Bhasin says that it might leave a certain impact on the ad rates. "Two of the biggest teams are out of the tournament and new ones have been introduced. At a time like this, clients may start questioning the credibility of the tournament all together. If the tournament has to retain its advertisers, they have to work on keeping the credibility intact," he adds.

"Having said that, a popular event like IPL will never have a lack of sponsors. The key issue is the ad slot prices. Over the years we have seen an increase in ad rates from the preceding tournaments for every new season. This year however, it will be hard to aim for higher ad rates for the ad slots," he asserts.

One thing that the SPN India president - ad sales Rohit Gupta and his team managed to achieve over the years is a constant hike in ad rates. The tournament 2015 edition, as per’s analysis, raked in over Rs 1000 crore to make it one of the best ever IPL for the network. In the previous edition, the tournament hiked the ad rates by close to 15 per cent, taking the price of a 10-second slot to Rs 4.5 - 5 lakh. The tournament’s viewership has also kept ascending with time, and keeping the regional importance in mind, the broadcaster relayed the tourney in six different languages last year. Last year IPL was welcomed by ICC cricket World Cup. Played in Australia and New Zealand on a totally different time zone, the 50 over tournament did no harm to the flagship domestic T20 tournament.

If sources are to believed then Star India is all set to bring back the Mauka Mauka craze. The ad campaign emerged as one of the most talked about elements during the ICC World Cup earlier this year.

A cricket expert on condition of anonymity says, "The quality of cricket is elite in both the tournaments. India will be playing Pakistan in one of the league matches and I think that will be one of the most viewed matches of the year. Having said so, the enthusiasm won’t be similar during non-India matches, whereas when it comes to the IPL because of its unity in diversity nature all the matches turns out to be of equal importance. Pune is a good inclusion but I doubt if the pitch will last seven matches because last the time it did not. If you ask me to choose one between IPL or ICC World T20 Cup from a cricketer’s point of view, I will choose the IPL because of it’s consistent quality for a longer period of time whereas, as an Indian I will choose the World Cup because at the end of the day, when the National Anthem resonates, the feeling is special."

That said, the first half of 2016 will definitely be exciting for cricket, broadcasters, advertisers as well as fans of the game.

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