The Lodha Panel verdict on the punishment of suspending the Indian Premier League (IPL) teams Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Rajasthan Royals (RR) has become a pain point for the League which had just ended its eighth edition on a high note. While IPL 8 sailed smoothly, it seems that the ghosts of the 2013 edition which brought out the spot-fixing scam are still plaguing the cricketing property. With the two top teams exiting for a period of 2 years the League could see an impact especially on television.
IPL has seen a continued growth in viewership and has been the most successful domestic league in India in terms of garnering TV viewership. IPL 8 during the whole tournament saw viewership rise to 20% over IPL 7 and recorded 3.8 TVRs from 3.1 TVRs in IPL 7 according to TAM Sports data. Even time spent on viewing the league increased from 46 minutes and 17 seconds this season from 42 minutes and 24 seconds, which is a 9% rise. During IPL 8, CSK and Rajasthan Royals brought in some of the highest ratings during the season. Out of a total of 60 matches played 10 of the matches played by CSK brought in the highest ratings which were over 4.0 TVRs. While Rajasthan Royals has 6 matches which were highest rated. These two teams accounted for more than one fourth viewership that IPL 8 generated.
It is this viewership of IPL for which brands flock towards. Multi Screen Media (MSM) which has the TV broadcast rights is expected to have seen a 40 per cent revenue growth since the last season according to industry sources. As IPL 7 is said to have generated Rs.800 crore, this would take IPL 8 TV ad spends to over Rs.1,100 crore. Media reports had earlier pegged IPL 8 ad spends at Rs.950-1,000 core. MSM had acquired the rights of IPL for Rs.8,200 crore for a period of 9 years, which is expected to end in 2017.
Brands flocked to associate with the league on TV and MSM saw 12 brands on board as presenting and associate sponsors. The presenting sponsors were Vodafone and Amazon, while associate sponsors included PepsiCo, Hero MotoCorp, Paytm, Intex Mobiles, Cardekho.com, Magicbricks.com, Raymond, Cadbury, Parle Products and Vimal Pan Masala. This is despite a 10-15% hike in ad rates this season which saw ad rates rise to Rs.5-5.75 lakh per 10 second spot, while the presenting sponsorship rate rose to an estimated Rs.50-60 crore from Rs.45-55 crore and associate sponsorship to an estimated Rs.30-40 crore from Rs.25-35 crore. MSM also managed to sell 100% of the IPL inventory much prior to the start of the tournament with only a few key final matches left for spot buys.
If the BCCI decides to continue with the remaining six teams the ad inventory of IPL on TV will get reduced. This would cut down the profits of the League next year. If however the BCCI decides to start two new franchise teams, neither would be able to generate the viewership and fan following that CSK and Rajasthan Royals have built up during the eight seasons. This would see overall viewership of the tournament dropping in the following season and even consequently the brand attraction. When contacted, Rohit Gupta, President, MSM said he did not have any comments on the issue.
According to P.M. Balakrishna, CEO, Allied Media, “It is too early to react but I quite frankly don’t see any impact from a property perspective. With six teams it will only have a little bit of implication from a broader perspective on the number of matches and the number of days. In the short term there will be a small impact but by the time March comes next year everything will be aligned I am sure.”
However, according to another senior media planner the implications on IPL will be much larger by the suspension of CSK and Rajasthan Royals as not only will the number of matches reduce which in turn reduce the inventory. The option of getting new team franchises won’t be as effective in attracting brands to IPL at least in the next season.
It remains to be seen how the BCCI and IPL will look to remedy this as a lot of the viewership for the league depends on CSK and Rajasthan Royals being a part of the League.