New TRAI tariff regime will not hurt Vivo IPL 2019 viewership: Jigar Rambhia, Wavemaker

Rambhia, National Director - Sports, Wavemaker India, has been associated with IPL since its inception in 2008. He talks to exchange4media about all things sports and IPL

by Venkata Susmita Biswas
Published - Mar 11, 2019 8:22 AM Updated: Mar 11, 2019 8:22 AM
jigar rambhia

With three special media events – Vivo IPL 2019, ICC World Cup and the General Elections – lined up in a span of three months in 2019, there is significant speculation about viewership, ad spends on these events and the subsequent impact on the revenue of broadcasters, and simply viewer fatigue.

Jigar Rambhia, National Director - Sports, Wavemaker India, who has been associated with the IPL since its inception in 2008, is firm in his belief that IPL has been the most promising media property for the last 11 years.

Despite the three special events coming close on the heels of one another, viewer fatigue is not expected to set in and advertisers will pour in monies into these events as they assure very high viewership, Rambhia said. 

In 2018, IPL witnessed 11 per cent increase in viewership garnering 414 million impressions on television. On Hotstar, the final match earned a peak viewership of 10.3 million registering a 3.5X growth in watch time over IPL 2017, as per Hotstar.  

“IPL has proved that it is the number one media property that has been consistently delivering results for the last 11 years. In fact, no other property in its second season has done as well as IPL and continues to deliver higher numbers year on year,” states Rambhia. 

“We have had people questioning it year on year but IPL has always proved them wrong. I can confidently say that nothing assures the kind of visibility that IPL provides. IPL gives you 45 days of visibility at a stretch with such a huge audience,” he added. 

Cricket, the flavour of the season
No big brand can afford to miss out on associating with IPL, irrespective of other media options available. “During the General Elections, the counting day and polling days do guarantee viewership; but that accounts for only 10 days of the entire election period. Also, election news is broadcast across several news channels, so the viewership gets split across all these channels. Instead with IPL, the viewership is concentrated on select channels for a longer span of 45 days,” explains Rambhia.   

The biggest theme for 2019 will be cricket and more cricket. “The reason ICC World Cup is a dependable media property is because it’s the love for one’s country. World Cup as a property will always garner more interest; be it Football World Cup, Cricket World Cup or Kabaddi World Cup,” reasons Rambhia. 

He says that since ICC World Cup 2019 will be played with only 10 teams, every match is more or less guaranteed to be a good one with lot of interest among viewers. “In addition, given the Indian cricket team’s current performance it will ensure high viewership.”

There is wide speculation about how advertisers will be spending their money this year. As per GroupM’s TYNY report, 3 per cent of the 14 per cent growth that the industry could experience in 2019 will come from the World Cup and General Elections. “In a year like this when we have ICC World Cup which has its own merits as does the IPL, I think advertisers would either double their spends and advertise on both properties or choose one event over another depending on their priorities. I doubt if marketers would split their (existing) spends across the two properties because it wouldn’t help the brand much,” Rambhia said. “If one wants to establish a brand by leveraging these events, then the brand needs to be present throughout the duration of the event.” 

TRAI Impact
Rambhia says implementation of the new TRAI tariff regime will not hurt IPL viewership. According to him, users will choose to subscribe to the channel broadcasting IPL and ICC World Cup on priority because they would not want to miss watching either of these big cricketing events. He is highly confident that sports, especially cricket, is poised to deliver results for advertisers over the next three months.

Social Viewing
In 2018, the Broadcast Audience Research Council (India) began monitoring and tracking Out-Of-Home television viewership. Launching the measurement system, Partho Dasgupta, CEO, BARC India, said, “There is a large population that consumes content on TV which is outside the bounds of home. We realised that it was important to capture those viewers as well.” Rambhia is of the opinion that this co-viewing phenomenon of sporting events is here to stay. He feels that while Digital viewership will grow, the culture of social viewing is catching up in India. ICC too has identified this habit and plans to license public viewing to establishments. 

Rambhia says social viewing is a good trend because social viewing will help franchisees develop a fan base for the teams. “Typically, in the case of IPL, people support a team because they like a particular player like M S Dhoni or Virat Kohli and not mainly because of the team. This is unlike the fan following for the English Premier League where people are fans of ManU or Arsenal and not purely of the players alone.” 

Cluttered Space
Because of the heightened fan following and viewership of cricket, brands clamour to bag a plum sponsorship deal with IPL teams and the broadcaster to maximise their reach during the season. This has resulted in the media property becoming severely cluttered with logos plastered across the screen. Rambhia blames this on brands who merely want to bag a deal, but do nothing innovative thereafter. He reveals that sometimes brands simply want to land a deal to block off competitors from bagging the deal. “Brands need to know clearly why they are tying up so as to use the association in a creative and innovative manner.”

He cites the example of Bajaj Allianz which had an association with Mumbai Indians few years ago. Bajaj Allianz through its Junior Football Camp conducts a talent hunt in football across the country and sends selected children to Germany for training with FC Bayern Munich coaches. “They (Bajaj Allianz) used association with Mumbai Indians to get a football match played between the MI team and the children, and thereby promoted the Junior Football Camp.”

Non-cricket Sports
While non-cricketing sports are seeing an upward trend, they are not receiving the investment needed to develop them into bigger media properties, Rambhia said. “I am sad and surprised that brands do not want to support non-cricket sports. I do understand that they would not bring in the same kind of revenues as cricket, but brands should start putting in some money to promote these sports.” He pointed out that the investment that goes into any sport is directly related to high quality performers.”

“Till the time brands do not start making stars out of individual players and help them hone their skills, we will be stuck.” He said brands need to promote players in the way that Li-Ning has with P V Sindhu by signing a Rs 50 crore deal with her.  He further added that since non-cricket sports don’t have the kind of individual champions and icons you need to develop a fan following, the viewership is inhibited.  

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