Star Disney works out the way forward with IPL sponsors

As BCCI eyes a new window for resuming IPL, the broadcaster presents two options to advertisers: continue with existing deals or ink fresh ones

e4m by Javed Farooqui
Updated: May 6, 2021 9:57 AM
star IPL

Allaying fears of advertisers in the wake of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 postponement, Star Disney India is set to formally communicate to its 120 IPL clients that they only have to pay for the ad inventory that they have consumed so far. The advertisers are a worried lot since the agreement with Star Disney India doesn't have an exit clause.

The broadcaster has held discussions with its IPL clients on the way forward. Since IPL ad deals are non-cancellable, the broadcaster is giving two options to advertisers. 1) Continue with the existing deals since the BCCI is exploring a new window for the remaining IPL matches, and 2) Star will cancel the ad deals from its end and allow the existing sponsors to ink fresh deals for the remainder of IPL games, if and when they happen.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) was able to host only 29 matches of IPL 2021 as rising Covid-19 cases among players had forced it to suspend the tournament and possibly hold the remaining 31 matches during the September window.

An industry source said that the BCCI has only postponed the IPL due to the growing Covid cases. Since IPL is the BCCI's cash cow, it will do everything at its disposal to conduct the remaining 31 matches. "There is no loss of sponsorship at this point since the BCCI is finding ways of conducting the remaining games. IPL's TV and digital sponsors will have to pay only for the ad inventory they have consumed. They can continue as sponsors or ink a fresh deal whenever the remaining IPL matches take place," the source stated.

According to a senior media planner, the picture will become clearer in a day or two. "Right now, there is no clarity on the sponsorship deals. We are in active conversation with Star Disney on the way forward," the media planner said.

Email sent to Star Disney India didn't elicit any response.

Broadcaster Star Disney India was eyeing a 16-18% increase in TV ad revenue over the Rs 2800 crore that it had earned last time. Disney+ Hotstar, on the other hand, was eyeing a sharp increase in ad revenue from the previous season's estimated ad revenue of Rs 370-380 crore.

For IPL 2021, Star Disney had roped in 18 sponsors including Dream11, Byju’s, Phone Pe, Just Dial, Upstox, Bingo, Kamla Pasand, AMFI, Frooti, Asian Paints, Thums Up, Vodafone-Idea, Mondelez, Amazon Prime, Groww, Cred, Garnier Men, and Havells Fans.

Disney+ Hotstar had onboarded 15 marquee sponsors including Dream11, Upstox, Vimal Elaichi, MX TakaTak, Unacademy, Swiggy, PhonePe, Parle Agro, Mutual Funds Sahi Hai, PharmEasy, Livspace, Amazon, CoinSwitch Kuber, Xiaomi India, and CRED.

It is also pertinent to note that the IPL 2021 viewership has seen a decline compared to the previous edition. There were media reports that advertisers were seeking discounts from Star Disney. However, the source who was quoted above noted that the IPL deals are structured differently and there is no scope for any kind of discounts. "IPL is not sold on viewership, therefore, there is no question of discount," the source stated.

The first 17 matches of IPL 2021 had attained an average cumulative reach of 105 million viewers, as per BARC India data for India 2+/ TV Only/ Live Matches Only/ VM. Comparatively, the first 14 matches of IPL 2020 had an average cumulative reach of 116 million viewers. IPL 2019 had an average cumulative reach of 101 million viewers for the first 17 matches.

The viewing minutes for the 17 matches stood at 6.62 billion compared to 8.34 billion for the first 14 matches in IPL 2020 and 6.07 billion for 17 matches in IPL 2019.

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