With BCCI eyeing new window for IPL, most of Star's clients to stick to ad deals

Experts also caution against extending the league further than the Sep-Oct window, which could upset the deals as it may clash with ICC Men's T20 World Cup

e4m by Javed Farooqui
Updated: May 25, 2021 12:35 PM

With the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) firm on holding the remaining Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 matches, Star Disney India's IPL clients are keen on continuing their advertising deals with the broadcaster. 

Since India has been battered by a deadly second Covid-19 wave, IPL 2021 was suspended mid-way since many players got infected and it became risky to continue the tournament in the wake of the rising cases.

The BCCI had already completed 29 matches by the time IPL 2021 was suspended. The board is mulling a September-October window for the remaining 31 matches. The tournament might be shifted to UK or UAE if the situation doesn't improve in India. 

With ICC T20 World Cup scheduled in October-November, the board doesn't have enough room to manoeuvre as far as scheduling IPL is concerned.

Amid the uncertainty over IPL, Star Disney told its advertisers that they can pay only for the ad inventory they have consumed (29 matches). Since the ad deal is non-cancellable at the advertisers' end, Star presented the advertisers with two options -- to either continue with the existing deals or end the current deal and sign a fresh one in case they want to return for the second half of the tournament. 

Queries sent to Star Disney India did not elicit any response. 

According to an industry source, more than 80% of Star's TV clients have chosen to continue their IPL ad deals. For Disney+ Hotstar, the figure is 60% since it has a lot of smaller advertisers. According to TAM Sports, 90+ advertisers and 165+ brands are advertising on Star's TV network for the IPL.

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.

"Around 80% of TV clients have agreed to continue while others have not made up their mind. On digital, the figure would be around 60% since many of the advertisers are small. If IPL happens around the festive season, ad rates might go up. In 2020, Star had jacked up the rates when the tournament was held during September-October," the source said, requesting not to be quoted.

However, the source cautioned that the situation will be totally different if the second half of IPL 2021 gets extended beyond September-October since 2021 ICC Men's T20 World Cup is scheduled to take place between 18th October to 15th November. 

The T20 WC is also expected to shift outside India to UAE. Then there is also the issue of the gap between IPL 2021 and the next edition which will have 10 teams.

"If IPL gets extended beyond September, then things change drastically because two IPL seasons cannot be held within a short span. Also, IPL 2022 is a different ball game due to the addition of two new teams," the source added.

Wavemaker India Chief Client Officer & Head- West Shekhar Banerjee feels that advertisers will have a tough choice to make since the gap between T20 WC and IPL is expected to be very small. 

“We expect the market to be more favourable to cricket investment with Wave 2 tapering down. However, we need to look at this decision from two angles. First, platforms like IPL are not just about media investment but most advertisers plan an integrated strategy spanning from Coms to GTM and they need to start from scratch as their existing campaign will not have novelty. 

"The next big decision to make is IPL Vs T20WC and most of the serious cricket advertisers have already planned for a full-fledged campaign anchored around the World Cup, so the choice is a tough one to make," Banerjee stated.

"The situation is so volatile that it will depend on the clients because this year if you see the economic scenario is okay but the advertisers are not spending as much because of the negative sentiments. If things become positive they might advertise but we cannot say on their behalf because the decisions will be taken closer to the event. Star has given the first right of refusal to all the sponsors and advertisers who were there already but right now we are in a volatile situation where we don't know what will happen around September-October. It's more to do with the negative sentiments," said Sujata Dwibedy, Group Trading Director, Amplifi, the media investment division of Dentsu International.

"IPL is one event which gives them a very good upside but if all goes well they will come back because last year also we saw it was a success though it didn't happen in India and there were no spectators but it was a very good mood booster and it did great for the advertisers. It brought the positive sentiments and optimism back. A lot of clients got active. We saw a good surge to deflate whatever had happened in previous months," she added.

While the viewership was satisfactory, Dwibedy believes that the IPL drives a lot of demand for clients. "The demand was also increasing but what also happened was that the lockdowns were implemented so some of the clients were getting a lot of demand. Rating is one thing the other thing is the demand which IPL leads to. But if the market is closed how do companies supply their products so that was also an issue that was happening."

According to sources, broadcaster Star Disney India had set a target of 16-18% growth in TV ad revenue over the Rs 2800 crore that it had earned in 2020. Disney+ Hotstar was also expecting a sharp increase in ad revenue from the previous season's estimated ad revenue of Rs 370-380 crore.

Earlier, Star Disney India had said that the match 27 between Mumbai Indians (MI)-Chennai Super Kings (CSK) was the most-watched IPL mid-season match ever in BARC history with 11.2 billion minutes of consumption. This match also became the most-watched match of season 14.

The broadcaster had also said that IPL 2021 (29 matches) surpassed the overall reach to 367 million versus 357 million in 2020. The IPL megacast with 9 different feeds in multiple languages along with broadcast innovations such as simulated crowd sound and dynamic audio kept viewers equally engaged as the last season.

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