Can the Bilateral Series bowl the advertisers over?

Even as some warn of cricket fatigue setting in, media planners are largely optimistic about the series in terms of revenue generation for the broadcaster

e4m by Sonam Saini
Published: Oct 19, 2021 9:00 AM  | 4 min read

The last three months of 2021 are a treat for cricket lovers. Close on the heels of Indian Premier League (IPL) 14 concluding, the ICC T20 World 2021 commenced. And now, fans are eagerly awaiting the bilateral series, which will begin on November 17.

Despite its dates being uncomfortably close to T20 World Cup and IPL, media planners believe that the bilateral series against New Zealand, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and West Indies is expected to generate good revenue for the broadcaster.

"We are a cricket-loving nation, and we like to watch enough and more of cricket. Anything and everything around cricket garner viewership, and therefore it attracts advertisers. Also, depending on which time of the year, different brands and categories will show interest. For instance, IPL usually happens April-May, and hence summer brands leverage IPL. Similarly, now India vs New Zealand series will happen during winters, and therefore winter brands will be keen on exploring the bilateral series.  As long as it keeps garnering viewership, it will attract advertisers," said Vishal Shah, Managing Partner, Mediacom.

The Apex Council passed the international home season 2021-22 along with the venues last month. The Indian cricket team will play four Tests, 14T20s, and three ODIs in India between November 17, 2021,- June 19, 22. The first T20 match between India and New Zealand will be played in Jaipur.

According to the sources, Star Sports has already started the initial discussion with agencies for the matches. However, the focus is more on the T20 World Cup 2021 which will conclude on November 16.

A source close to the development has informed that Star offers multiple combo options to the advertisers, estimated at Rs 15-20 crore onwards. "The bigger advertisers usually buy combo options, whereas others opt for separate matches." The industry experts estimate that T20 matches are usually priced around Rs 10 lakh, ODI will be at Rs 7-7.5 lakh, and test matches come down to Rs 4-4.5 lakh for the 10-second ad spot.

If we look at the India- New Zealand matches, the ICC World Test Championship (WTC) Final is one example. The final played between the two teams this year in June was viewed by 99 million viewers. According to Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India, the series is the most viewed test match since 2018.

According to Dinesh Singh Rathore, CEO, Madison Omega, people will continue to watch cricket, and some other brands will continue to show interest in the series. "In fact, some of the brands that cannot buy a spot in IPL or T20 World Cup, bilateral series will be a good option for them." 

According to several media reports, the second leg of IPL 2021 witnessed a drop in viewership compared to the first phase and even IPL 2020's viewership. However, we are yet to receive the overall viewership data for the tournament. 

Samir Choudhary, co-founder, The Media Ant, shared, "There certainly be some cricket fatigue, and we have already seen that in IPL 2021's viewership which has been lower than the last season. The T20 World Cup is going on, and advertisers want to wait until the series gets over before committing to the India vs New Zealand series. It is hard to say anything about what kind of response would be for bilateral series, but we expect to be a little lower because this will be continuous cricket for almost five months now." Choudhary, who works mainly with retail clients, said they have to wait until the T20 World Cup gets over. 

The official broadcaster, Star India network, disclosed that it was on track to breach the 400 million viewers' mark on TV for the fourth year. The official statement on the viewership of 35 matches read, "The marquee tournament has so far garnered 380 million viewers ( until match 35), 12 million higher than IPL 2020 at the same stage. The TV viewer aggregation is in fact, higher than the last three editions of the tournament since 2018."

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