With the Indian Premier League (IPL) on his side, Multi Screen Media (MSM) is standing on a strong wicket. According to Rohit Gupta, President, MSM, IPL was sold out as early as November 2010, and as was the case with the previous seasons, MSM has held back 20 per cent inventory with the intention of selling at a premium. With less than two months left for the IPL, Gupta has once again donned his IPL hat and speaks more on the tournament in this conversation with exchange4media.
How is the IPL experience, given that the World Cup is preceding it?
IPL is a very safe bet from an advertiser perspective, given the format of the game. There is a consistent delivery match after match across all 74 games, whereas in the World Cup, even if you assume that India goes to the final, there are only nine games; the rest 40 are non-India games. When India will be playing, ratings will be high, but in the other games, ratings will drop substantially. This does not help brands to build up reach. For us, 90 per cent of our past sponsors have come on board this year too. We started in September and by November, we closed all our sponsors – that is the power of IPL. It is the biggest event on television in India. In fact, the response this year was so positive we had to open another slot and increase our number of sponsors to 11. There are two new players – Cadbury and L’Oreal – this year. Havells is another brand that has come back this year as a sponsor after season one. We have not felt any hurdles in trying to sell the inventory due to IPL versus the World Cup. The issue is more on their side than ours.
How have the ad rates for the IPL grown season after season?
We have had about a 20-25 per cent growth in ad rates since last year. This year, our pricing for sponsors was about Rs 5 lakh for 10 seconds. For spot buyers, our rates stood at Rs 5.5 lakh per 10 seconds, which we have now increased to Rs 6 lakh. In terms of viewership, in season one, IPL touched 100 million people, rose to 121 million in season two and last year, it rose to 143 million people. We expect this growth to continue, and so will the ad rates.
But there is a constant complaint about the number of cricketing events…
… There are two ways to look at it. There is no overkill of the T20 format. If you look at any series, there is maximum one or two T20s per series. Therefore, IPL stands out and T20 is a format that, as we have seen over the past seasons, touches a wider audience as compared to an ODI format. Hence, the IPL advertisers’ profile has players across categories. IPL is entertaining and lasts for a short 3.5 hours and has managed to attract female audience and youth.
Was there any apprehension about the various controversies surrounding IPL adversely impacting the property?
Any controversy, where more negative things flow, is not good for a property. But you need to understand where the controversy was happening; it was more around the administration and things such as that. As far as the broadcaster is concerned, it is all about viewership. So long as there is no controversy involving the players, I think IPL will continue. For the consumer on the road, he comes to watch extremely competitive cricket by the top players in the world. As long as he gets that and has a great experience and a good family outing at the stadium, none of these things matter. The problem may arise if there are controversies around the players, which may take the sheen out of IPL.
The Pakistan-related decision does not seem to have impacted the property much…
Today, IPL is not about a single player; it is about a team. So, you have Simmons and Dhoni playing together, which would otherwise have been unheard of. While in season one, the Pakistani players did extremely well, nobody has missed them because so many new players have emerged. Another thing that has worked well this year is that due to the bidding, there are no favourites or strong or weak teams. This year, no predictions can be made as all the teams are new, which is good from a broadcaster’s perspective as we are back to the interest levels that we saw in Season one.