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ISL competes with India-SA series for brand pull and viewership

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ISL competes with India-SA series for brand pull and viewership

The next three months will see a lot of sports action on TV. While international football leagues, Formula 1 and other sports properties have begun, beginning on October 2, 2015 is the Paytm Freedom Series between India and South Africa which consists of 3 T20 matches, 5 ODIs and 4 test matches spread over three months. Simultaneously on October 3 starts the second season of the Indian Super League (ISL). While the India versus South Africa series will be played on Star Sports 1, 3, HD1 and HD3, the ISL matches will be on the other Star Sports channels.

The case of brand pull

The India versus South Africa series has seen more brand attention. The series has already got 10 brands on board as co-sponsors and associate sponsors. Ad revenues for the tournament are expected to cross Rs.250 crore with a number of brands already signed on and more expected to join in. The co-sponsorship brands include Paytm, Raymond and Lava mobiles, while the associate sponsors include Maruti Suzuki, Idea, Intex mobiles, Royal Stag, Havells, Hero MotoCorp and OLX. The interest levels of brands are high for this tournament despite ad rate packages also being as high as Rs.14-15 crore for associate sponsorship from usually Rs.10-12 crore for the same package.

ISL in the second season too has seen a fair share of interest from advertisers. In a recent article exchange4media was the first to report regarding ISL 2 sponsorship revenues increasing to Rs.100 crore from Rs.50 crore reported in the first edition. ISL 2 has 10 brands on board. Some of the brands that came on board include title sponsor Hero MotoCorp, associate sponsors are Maruti Suzuki and Flipkart. The other brands include Amul and Imperial Blue as official partners, The Muthoot group as referee sponsor, Puma as the ball partner, Gatorade as official sports drink, DHL as timing and logistics partner and Volini as pain relief partner. However, with many of the brands locked in it remains to be seen how many brands come on board as spot deals.

A senior media planner said that India-South Africa series will definitely get more traction from brands than ISL as the viewership is expected to be several times higher and considering it is a tough team such as South Africa it will keep viewers hooked to it. “On the other hand ISL had not done too well in terms of viewership and the level of play in the first season was not on the international standards and hence I don’t see much traction from brands,” he said.

Another media planner on the other hand said, “While the brands with high budgets and those flushed with funding will advertise on the India-South Africa series, there will be other brands with smaller budget that might not get an opportunity due to the ticket size. These brands will look towards advertising on ISL if they have a campaign running. You might even see some ecommerce brands advertising on both the tournaments.”

“You cannot compare the two sports tournaments. Cricket will always get the largest share of the advertising revenues and such a series will always draw more brands. ISL is there for the long haul and large investments have been made with the hope that it will attract brand sponsorship on a similar level. However, there are a few more years for it to go before it can be a serious draw for brands,” said a senior media planner.

Competing for viewership

The viewership of ISL in the first season had received a viewership of 429 million across eight channels of the Star India Network. This was slightly lower than the viewership of Pro Kabaddi League first season which received more viewership in the second season. While the only cricket match India has played with South Africa during this year has been during the ICC World Cup (which brought in viewership of 257 million - 12.9 TVR across Star network including DD). This is big considering the matches during this year’s world cup were not during the prime time hours. The previous series between the two countries was in 2013 with India’s tour of South Africa. Though the series received a reasonable good viewership it was not too high as the series was played outside the country.

With the current series being played in India it is expected to draw a much higher viewership than what was seen during the World Cup this year. While it is good for cricket, it may not mean well for football and specifically ISL. The league was expected to draw many first time watchers of football in India and it did so reasonably well last season. However, with cricket action expected to be there on the side many of that first time audience would prefer to watch cricket and especially two big teams such as these. While on the other hand the domestic football league would have to compete with other top international leagues such as the Barclays Premier League (BPL), La Liga and Bundas Liga on weekends. These are leagues which football fans in India follow on a weekend-to-weekend basis. This could potentially see its effect on the viewership of ISL in the second season. As many of these key sports properties are in the hands of the Star network it remains to be seen how it will manage to push for the growth of all the properties equally.


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