What IPL comeback means to the entire industry?

Experts opined that the festive season would bring the lost cheer back.

NEW DELHI-. As numerous tournaments around the globe are making their comeback, the Indian Premier League (IPL) is going to bring smiles to cricket fans’ faces from 19 September. The game will be held in UAE this year and is one of the most sought after tournaments in recent history.

If reports are to be believed, online gaming and sports firms are all set to spend big on television and digital platforms. With live sports back in action, the biggest question that is being asked is how the business of live sports would fare during the pandemic. organized a virtual round table to discuss more about the current state and future of Live Sports in India. The round table witnessed several industry veterans sharing their opinions and insights on the subject. These veterans included - Mindshare South Asia, COO Amin Lakhani; Dentsu Aegis Network CEO APAC & Chairman Ashish Bhasin; Byju’s head of marketing Atit Mehta; Future Group’s group CMO (Marketing, digital, and e-commerce) Pawan Sarda; IPG Mediabrands CEO- India Shashi Sinha; Group M India business head (Entertainment, Sports & Live Events) Vinit Karnik. The discussion was moderated by Group Founder, CEO & Editor-in-Chief Anil Wanvari.

Mindshare South Asia COO Amin Lakhani mentions that since the day IPL was announced there has been a sense of positivity and it indicates that we are on the path to recovery. “There is a cautiousness in the market as the businesses have taken a huge setback in most of the segments. Many brands are looking it as an opportunity on how they can engage with IPL. The conversation with clients on IPL is three times more than what we were having with them around television ad spends in last couple of months,” shares Lakhani.

IPG Media brands CEO- India Shashi Sinha believes that it is definitely an opportune moment for IPL to come in. “Metro cities contribute to nearly 35% of overall consumption in India. However, these cities have been most affected due to pandemic and IPL gets large traction from these regions. So, IPL is a good opportunity for brands catering to the audiences in these markets to come out from the negativity. We also feel that the sentiment is really good, and one should not compare IPL to the March - April but to what the mood was in June and July this year.”. 

DAN CEO APAC & chairman Ashish Bhasin points out that the Indian market is more sentiment-driven as compared to any other market in the world. “If the mood is upbeat, both advertisers and consumers continue to open their purses. Last year, the economy was not doing as badly as it is doing now, but the mood was depressed. As a result, the advertising industry and many other brands were not doing well. We have already had 4-5 months of bad news, and sometimes we need an escape from it, and IPL has a potential for that. I think around the time of IPL, we will start approaching closer to normality, and once that happens, the universe will expand,” says Bhasin.

Group M India business head Vinit Karnik opines that it’s completely unfair to compare 2020 with last year's performance. “This year has been a completely different experience for each and every sector, but still, I believe there is a reasonable amount of head-room for both GECs as well as the sports sector to survive. I think we have a decent amount of headroom to manage both,” he further adds.

Future Group’s group CMO Pawan Sarda defines the last few months as a complete washout and believes that businesses are still struggling as they have not reached 30-40 per cent of the previous year. Says he, “It’s time to step back and observe how things will happen and then make a decision on our spendings. IPL is a platform that sets the mood for the country. A good amount of advertising is always good for healthy consumption, and since we are in retail, we tend to get the benefit from it. We are not committing anything right now.”

During this lockdown, e-learning has performed exceptionally well. Byju’s head of marketing Atit Mehta shares, “For us, the past 4-5 months have been good in topline and bottom-line growth. We are optimistic and looking forward to the start of the festive season and every other opportunity that comes our way.”

Says he, “As we have lost out our bid, we will now have to look at other options as far as IPL is concerned.”

So, overall the mood is very upbeat within the brands and agencies as they keen to once again go out and reach their consumers.

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