The fourth season of IPL is not exactly burning up the ratings charts. As per data from TAM Sports, the latest season has performed below the average match ratings drawn at this point in the tournament. Forty-nine matches down, and it seems that IPL4 is not exactly the cake every advertiser eagerly should have bitten into.
In the latest season, the IPL tournament has managed an average of 3.94 TVR after 49 matches in the six metro markets, for TG CS 4+ years. A quick comparison with the previous seasons shows that after 49 matches, IPL Season 3 had commanded an average match rating of 5.29 TVR, while IPL 1 had amassed a rating of 5.24 TVR, followed by 4.49 TVR in IPL 2.
Fatigue, divided loyalties, higher number of matches
Media experts are attributing this ratings rout to various reasons. According to Avinash Pillai, National Buying Director, India, Mediacom, while there might be a possible overdose of cricket, the poor ratings performance had nothing to do with cricket fatigue. He pointed out, “This year, with open auctions seeing teams dissolve, suddenly people don’t know which team to support. There doesn’t seem to be player loyalty that the audience is used to seeing. Also, the marketing build-up has not been as much this year.”
The long duration of the tournament is also seen as a ratings dampener, as Vidyadhar Kale, General Manager, Maxus Mumbai, noted that any format that lasted over six weeks, would slump in between. He further said that the intensity of viewership had gone down and attributed it to the higher number of matches, predictable, one-sided matches, and potential cricket fatigue.
Commenting on the fatigue factor, K Satyanarayana, Vice President & Communication Partner, Media Direction, pointed out that this was first time ever that both World Cup and IPL were played almost back to back. “Hundred days of continuous cricket can’t keep the momentum, particularly when India is celebrating the World Cup win,” he noted.
On the other hand, Saurabh Tyagi, Account Director, Starcom MediaVest Group, felt that a comparison of ratings across years was not an “apple to apple comparison” since this year was a much longer tournament format (74 matches) as against the last few seasons (for instance, IPL3 had 60 matches).
Advertiser Bang for Buck
Are the advertisers getting a bang for their bucks amid all the clutter?
Kale noted that while the average rating for this season had dropped, for those marketers who wanted to make an impact during this time, there was no alternative but to be present on the platform. “With over 93 per cent of the available TV programmes delivering less than 1 TVR, there isn’t any platform available that matches the audience potential of the IPL,” he pointed out.
Taking a stand for advertisers who had opted to put in big monies on the League, Tyagi said, “For an advertiser, with a male skewed TG, the IPL is still the biggest opportunity available. The top GEC shows delivered 2-2.5 TVR in the male TG during the IPL season this year. It can be argued that a lot of this 2-2.5 rating is passive male viewership due to the prevalence of largely single TV homes in India. Also, the World Cup 2011 delivered an average rating of 3.2, so 3.9 in itself is not that a disastrous number.”
According to Satyanarayana, cricket was bought primarily for impact and not on the efficiency parameter as it had much more viewer involvement than any other programme. He further said that clutter was imminent in cricket and, therefore, the creative played a vital role in getting noticed. “Hence, the RoI on cricket is not just a function of media, but also a function of both media and creative. I suppose all the advertisers have benefited proportionate to their spends,” he added.
On whether advertisers were getting a bang for their buck, Carat Media Senior Vice President Sushma Jhaveri’s reply was, “Yes, if you have high frequency in the matches.”
Don’t write off IPL4 yet
However, all hope is not lost as most media experts believed that things improve as one went along, especially from the quarter finals and stressed that one couldn’t write off IPL4 yet.
On a more optimistic note, Satyanarayana said, “I wouldn’t say IPL has lost its spark. It will continue to be one of the most entertaining programmes because of its format; I suppose, courtesy IPL, now we can call it ‘Cricketainment’. It is like a long movie!”
He further noted that as seen from the ratings since the start of the IPL seasons, certain matches, such as those featuring Mumbai Indians, Chennai Super Kings, Kolkata Knight Riders, and so on, would be the lead matches and fetch higher ratings. “And, there are regional preferences. For instance, when Chennai Super Kings plays, the ratings in Tamil Nadu will be higher than the national average and similarly in other regions. So, the current trend can’t be a benchmark for future seasons. In any case, fluctuations in ratings are a given phenomenon,” he added. Kale, too, felt that matches involving Mumbai Indians and those that were high scoring as well as close finish ones were still enjoying good ratings.
And, there is a positive fallout expected from this fall in ratings. As Starcom MediaVest Group’s Tyagi said that it would rationalise the rates that Max was charging for IPL and the rates for IPL 5 might go down, instead of the 15-20 per cent increase that had been happening year on year for the last few seasons. “This will be good news for the advertisers,” he said.
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