(With inputs from Noor Fathima Warsia)
Indian Premier League’s Season 4 had too many new things for the viewers, for the advertisers and for the television industry per se. There was a new auction process, and hence formation of new teams. There were an increased number of cities competing and a higher number of matches, leading to a longer duration tournament. The BCCI took it upon itself to reduce the entertainment quotient and bring back the pure sport of cricket in IPL. Above everything else, viewers entered IPL with the ICC Cricket World Cup hangover, and it is not often that the nation unites cheering India all the way to bringing home the World Cup.
It could be one of these, or all of these, but IPL-4 has recorded “disappointing” ratings.
The Low Numbers
According to TAM Sports data, the tournament averaged at 3.91 TVR this season in the six metro markets for the target group C&S4+. The numbers come out of a total of 74 matches including the final match. In comparison, IPL 3 had scored the highest with an average of 5.51 TVR, followed closely by IPL’s debut season of 5.39 TVR. IPL 2 managed a 4.66 average match rating.
In terms of cumulative reach in percentages too, IPL-4 has delivered lower than IPL-3 but better than previous season. However, in absolute numbers of people who tuned in, IPL-4 has surpassed its previous seasons.
The highest rated match of the league was the opening match between Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) at a match rating of 7.77 TVR. The Final match of the tournament between CSK and Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) came in next at 6.96 TVR, the match that otherwise should have been the highest watch match of the season. Comparatively, IPL-1 Finals rated 11.69 TVR, IPL-2 scored 10.70 TVR and IPL-3 recorded a 12.85 match TVR.
Commenting on the property, Rohit Gupta, President, Multi Screen Media told exchange4media that ratings points are only one aspect and that the interest in the tournament has not gone down as the reach per match has increased this season. “Ratings need to be analysed in two parts – Reach and Time Spent. For a sport such as Cricket, reach is critical.”
Reach VS. Ratings
But the media services fraternity is not convinced with that view. Punitha Arumugam, Group CEO, Madison Media, stated, “The ratings are extremely disappointing. A genuine source of concern is that even weekends’ viewership has dropped dramatically over weekdays.”
Nandini Dias, COO, Lodestar UM said the expectations were more. She added, “Even the cume percentage reach numbers were lower than previous seasons. My sense is that this year the entertainment factor was reduced, and a lot of people who were watching IPL for that dropped out.”
Dias explained that IPL had become akin to a three-hour movie, which had a high dose of celebrities and a strong entertainment quotient. She observed, “There were people like the Mallya’s but you did not have too many film celebrities. What you had this year was cricket, and ratings reflect that.”
Gupta argued that the tournament had delivered to advertisers as they paid for ‘eyeballs’, which has been achieved due to the increase in Reach. A spot on IPL cost about Rs 5-6 lakh for 10 seconds while a spot on soap costs about Rs 1.5 lakh, the difference being IPL promises a far higher Reach. “Had the reach come down, it would have been an issue and that fatigue for the sport had set in. The Reach has increased showing interest in the format. Time spent is a variable factor that can be upped next year due to no fatigue as there will be no World Cup next year.”
At the same times, Gupta admitted that ratings were not as per expectations and that this could be due to many reasons. He said, “We have to still analyse the ratings and the address the possible reasons but it is too early at the moment to know what led to a low Time Spent.”
Dias asserted that IPL-5’s fate depended on what IPL organisers and broadcaster’s analysis. She said, “BCCI is saying they don’t want entertainment, and they will try to bring the pure sport back. It depends on the analysis but BCCI may need to review their take on entertainment factor.”