IPL 11 will do a turnover of Rs 2000 crore: Sanjay Gupta, MD, Star India

As the IPL 11' s week two inches towards its end, Star India claims to have already registered a growth of 10% in total viewership and is hoping to close the league with a turnover of Rs 2000 crore

e4m by Naziya Alvi Rahman
Updated: Apr 27, 2018 9:00 AM

While the country is engulfed watching the nerve wracking IPL matches, Sanjay Gupta, the Managing Director of Star India, is counting numbers.

“We have already got 423 million viewers watching us. It’s only been 17 matches,” says a relieved Gupta as he flips through the latest BARC data that arrived on Thursday morning. 
Before the league started, Gupta and his team, that won the IPL bid last year from Sony Pictures Network at Rs 16,347.5 crore, had estimated to reach 700 million viewers by the end of the season.

“So we feel we are in a very good position to reach our target,” he adds.

Gupta clarifies that all the data we discuss here is that of only Star India (TV+ Digital+ OOH) and not the feed going to Doordarshan. Also, the data for TV and OOH has come from BARC whereas the digital data is sourced internally from Hotstar.

“It is important to total all forms of data consumption before you conclude, if the viewership has gone up or not. One of the challenges for content has been that it has never been looked upon as total viewership because it has never been with one company. Today, for the first time, we can say that the viewership has grown by 10% across (Urban+ Rural). However, growth may vary in different sectors but overall growth is significantly higher this year,” he adds.

Besides viewership numbers, Gupta is also excited about the large numbers in which the advertisers have joined the league. “The number has exceeded 100 now. We don’t have slots to run ads. More than 90 % of our inventory is sold out already,” he says.

This is despite Star India increasing the ad rates by a significant margin compared to what marketers paid last season. It is believed that many brands that have traditionally been with the IPL deliberated for months this year before giving a go ahead for sponsorship. Perhaps this is the reason why many major deals happened too close to the league.

But Gupta has a straightforward answer to the increase in rate. “All good things come at a good price,” he says with a grin.

Going forward on the pricing discussion, Gupta doesn’t hesitate a bit about the increase in prices and the initial reluctance that some committed old brands showed to IPL this year. “Deals were closed only when Star got what it wanted.”

“For a property like this, there was a price we expected and we were happy to go without those who were asking for a lesser rate. Many brands were waiting that we will drop the prices as we go closer to the tournament but we were happy to go without them.”

However, Gupta claims that now the broadcaster is committed to give brands value for money. And here was the biggest challenge, “How do you make something as big as IPL even bigger?” Gupta asks and replies too.

“It is important to pull back and talk about two things, one is what have we done in IPL that makes us confident about what the outcome would be and second is how to look at this outcome. Let’s look at the three things that we have done in IPL this year. One we have made cricket the core of IPL in terms of the feeds, like if you look at the Superfan feeds, the dugout initiative and best vs best. It is all about cricket and cricketers being the heroes and rest of the world just salutes them.”

Gupta explains that another key step that the group took towards revamping IPL was its localisation. “We went beyond Hindi and English. We started four local feeds, Tamil, Kannada, Telugu and Bengali. A lot of content consumption grows when people get to see the content in their own language. We are giving them a bipartisan view like when you are in West Bengal you should celebrate KKR and not have a view that all teams are equal. It is same for other teams. It’s like when you watch India vs Pakistan, Indian television celebrates India and Pakistan TV celebrates their country.”

The third big initiative for the group was collaboration with BARC to measure out of home consumption in three cities of Mumbai, Bengaluru and Kolkata. “In big metros, a lot of cricket is consumed in restaurants while having dinner or lunch. This large section of viewership remained untapped for a long time. But we decided to count them too to get the actual viewership numbers.”
And with all these numbers whats the final turnover that Gupta is eyeing from IPL 11?"This year we will do a turnover of Rs 2000 Crore which is TV and digital put together since we sold the two together. This is approximately 60% more than last year from ad revenue ," Gupta concludes.

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