IPL-Election Clash: Which side will viewers & advertisers go?

With the two important events competing to get audience attention, we asked experts about the impact of elections on IPL

e4m by Ruhail Amin
Published: Feb 7, 2019 8:43 AM  | 5 min read

The upcoming 12th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) is making news well before it has actually begun. With the general elections slated this year, the league will inevitably clash with the big political event that will be held in April or May.

It needs to be added that when similar situations faced the league earlier in 2009, the organisers held the league in South Africa. Also, in 2014, a part of the league was played in UAE due to general elections.

However, this year is different. A recent release by the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) confirmed that the tournament will start on March 23 in India. Earlier BCCI too had announced that the league will remain in India after some reports suggested that the tournament might be moved outside due to general elections.

Now, what is intriguing is will this clash of the two big-ticket events impact the viewership ratio of the game which has seen phenomenal growth over the years.

With both IPL and general elections being made-for-TV events, we asked some experts about the clash of the two events and whether it will impact IPL in terms of viewership or advertising, here is what they had to say:

Stating that cricket in India always finds place at the top table, Harish Bijoor,  Brand Strategy Expert and Founder, Harish BijoorConsults, said, “Not really. Cricket is cricket and the rest of life, including elections, is just elections! We Indians have a classical way of prioritising our lives and its many involvements. Cricket finds its place at the top table. Nothing replaces it. Not health, not elections and not anything else at all.”

For marketing expert Anamika Sirohi, IPL viewership and thus the ad revenues will remain steady as most advertisers have long-term commitment with the game.

“While it is said that India has two loves- cricket and Bollywood -, the truth is that there is no reality show quite like Indian politics. This year, like most election years, will see analysts and psephologists going into a tizzy as they make the most of the moment. What will advertisers do? The usual suspects with long-term commitments will still ride the IPL. It’s the fence sitters who will now think hard before deciding which game to bet on,” said Sirohi.

According to Minakshi Menon, Sr. VP & Office Head, GREY Group India, advertisers may feel some uncertainty, especially since this election has the most intensive 360-marketing we have seen yet, but it would take a lot to drown out cricket in India in a World Cup year.

“Though both IPL and the general elections are hugely important across all sections of Indian society, they occupy very different emotional spaces. This is to a large extent reflected in how they are consumed. The news cycle will be dominated by the elections, but in the advertising and entertainment spaces, I believe the IPL will be front and centre, as it always is,”Menon said.

“Social media impact could possibly be scattered between elections and IPL, so quality of digital content and innovative thinking will make a difference to brands. Overall, I would say the IPL will remain a high impact media property,” she added.

Nidhi Chirvi, Digital Marketing Manager- Hindware, Consumer Business, believes that one may not compare apple and oranges, but for sure these two important and different national events are currently competing to get audience attention.

“Having said that, I don't think there will be any big clash in terms of viewership and advertising for IPL because elections would be largely the onus of news channels. These properties have been balancing between IPL and elections since 2014,” Chirvi said.

“IPL on the other hand is a rage amongst the age group of 16-35 yrs which apparently is the biggest consumer for digital and OTT platforms and contribute to 75% of the internet population. Also, on the advertising front, most of them have already been booked and there is in fact an overspill,” she further added.

According to former Bigbasket Head of Marketing Meera Iyer, the big clash will not have any impact on the game given the way content is consumed today.

“I don’t think either of the two events will have a problem because of three reasons: You can now in parallel use your mobile screen to watch one of the two while watching TV, there is also a bit of differences in audiences that will anyway stick to one of the two and everything today is 24/7 - you can just catch up on what you missed later,” said Iyer.

According to Manish Porwal, MD, Alchemist, brands that want a longer time build-up will have little option but to rely on IPL, while quick focus and short-window brands would concentrate on elections.

“IPL is a mature media brand. Election is a high decibel, short-term media event unlike the IPL. It clearly captures all audiences that IPL would typically aspire for, but for a very short term. While some top brands would negotiate for presence in both. Others would choose depending on their goal and budget,” Porwal added.

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