'IPL will provide strong entry point for consumers to come to Viacom18’s digital platform'

The league will play a pivotal role in helping establish it as India’s leading digital media, entertainment, and sports destination, said Network18 has said in its Q1 FY23 earnings release

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Published: Jul 19, 2022 5:28 PM  | 3 min read

The Indian Premier League (IPL) is the highest reach sports property in the country and will provide a strong entry point for consumers to come to Viacom18’s digital platform, Network18 has said in its Q1 FY23 earnings release.

"It will play a pivotal role in helping establish it as India’s leading digital media, entertainment, and sports destination," the company added.

Viacom18 recently acquired the exclusive digital streaming rights of the IPL for the Indian sub-continent for the next 5 seasons (2023-2027) for Rs. 23,757.5 crore. It also won the rights for 3 out of 5 international territories, which include major cricketing nations like South Africa, Australia, and the UK, for Rs. 594.5 crore.

“With rights to a slew of diverse sports properties like football (FIFA World Cup, La Liga, Serie A, and Ligue1), basketball (NBA), badminton, and tennis already acquired, Viacom18 is building one of the largest sporting destinations in the country, offering a compelling proposition for the core and casual sports fans,” the company said.

“Viacom18, while continuing to strengthen its broadcasting vertical, is building a digital platform of the future, to provide a best-in-class product, and user experience to the fast-growing Indian digital audience. The platform will utilize a combination of exciting sports action and captivating entertainment content across Hindi and regional languages, to build a winning consumer value offering,” they said.

During the quarter, Viacom18 increased its investments across content categories, in order to grow its share of TV viewership and to expand its growth businesses – Digital and Sports. As Viacom18 scales up its presence in sports and digital segments, content investments are expected to continue to increase going forward.

The TV network ramped up its programming with 2 new weekday slots and 1 additional impact show in Hindi, along with increased spending on movie channels and regional markets. It also stepped up its digital content offering with 9 new shows/movies that were launched on the digital platform this quarter compared to none last year, and sports-related costs added to the investments.

Marketing spending also grew significantly for the launch of new shows (TV and Digital) and to promote the 3 sports channels launched during the quarter.

The company noted that the revenue grew amidst a challenging advertising environment, but increased investments impacted profitability. "A high inflation environment posed a challenge for advertising growth, with total TV ad inventory (excluding sports) being flat on a YoY basis, despite the base quarter being impacted by pandemic," it stated.

Network18 Group revenue grew by 10%, driven by the growth in Entertainment and Digital News businesses, whose revenues grew 13% YoY and 24% YoY, respectively.

The entertainment business delivered robust growth in advertising revenues, despite the drop in Colors Rishtey revenue after it went off DD FreeDish (also impacting the margins directly). The ad revenue, adjusting for the impact of Colors Rishtey, grew in the high-teens, partly aided by the impact of the pandemic in the base quarter.

TV News ad revenue was flattish YoY, with branded content-led monetisation compensating for the loss of state elections-linked revenue last year. The network also optimized inventory.

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