"IPL should be evaluated in current TV environment"

Shubha George, COO, MEC South Asia, discusses industry trends that impacted MEC IPL TV Rating Prediction this year and why a rating of 3.8 is good for advertisers

"IPL should be evaluated in current TV environment"

MEC predicts an average rating of 3.8 for IPL Season 5 (C&S SEC ABC 15+). MEC South Asia’s Chief Operating Officer Shubha George speaks on why this would be a good number for advertisers, the various factors that MEC kept in mind for its estimates this season and how the IPL has evolved over the years in viewership and as a ‘premium’ property for advertisers. Excerpts:

The last few cricket tournaments have seen a general drop in ratings. Did that come in play while you were working on the MEC IPL 5 predictions?
Yes, we did study the cricket rating trends for MEC’s IPL 5 estimations. Interestingly, we found that Indians seem to concur with Scarlett O’Hara on ‘Tomorrow is another day’ – after the nadir of India-Australia ODI where the ratings dipped to an all-time low of under one, the Asia Cup numbers bounced right back to around 2.5 per cent for the India-Sri Lanka/Bangladesh matches. India-Pakistan was the 8-week topper across channels at a high of 7.7 per cent. This corroborates the view that Indians live and watch in hope as far as cricket is concerned.

Having been predicting IPL ratings for the last three years, what are some of the broad trends that you have been observing in IPL viewership?
The tournament has matured and now has a loyal set of viewers, which will mean more stable ratings. Sudden peaks and troughs are less likely. Team followings have also stabilised and unless there are some dramatic turnaround performances, the ratings of the more popular teams will remain higher than the tournament average even if their performance is not to the mark in this season. Indians follow stars and teams with established stars. Also, those who throw up exciting talent will benefit in viewership.

While last year you had predicted an average rating of 5 TVR, IPL 4 actually garnered only 3.7. What, do you think, was the reason for this gap considering your prediction in 2010 was spot on?
Last year, with the euphoria of the World Cup win, consumers indicated during the research that they were enthusiastic for more cricket. However, as the tournament unfolded, the fatigue did set in and IPL didn’t seem to matter much post the World Cup. Added to that were the extra matches with additional two teams which also pulled down the viewership.

It is said that IPL is looking to increase viewership from smaller cities. While the MEC IPL TV Rating Prediction survey is focussed on the main cities, do you factor the contribution from other cities to overall ratings?
Yes, in estimating the ratings we study all markets where TAM reports viewership and it includes viewership from the upcountry markets as well.

In context to the advertiser monies said to be invested in IPL this year, do you think a rating of 3.8 TVR is good from an advertiser viewpoint?
If we study the viewership data of the past eight weeks, only two soaps have delivered a rating of over 3.8 per cent at an all India level. Apart from these two serials, it has been Asia Cup and the awards shows such as Screen, Filmfare and Zee Cine that have managed to do the same. So, delivering an average of 3.8 over 72 games in today’s fragmented TV market is creditable. IPL is a premium property and comes with a price tag. It is for marketers and agencies to evaluate whether the premium is necessary for their campaigns at this point. We should not run the risk of simply comparing IPL to its past, but also evaluate its performance vis-à-vis current TV environment.

GECs seem to be launching quite a few programmes during the IPL. Do you expect IPL to hit Hindi GE genre? Which other genre is it likely to affect?
Yes, GEC ratings do drop during IPL. This is a trend we have seen across all seasons of IPL. Drops are greater than average also for Infotainment, Lifestyle and News. The regional channels, kids’ channels, and movies, both English and Hindi see drops that are lower than average.

IPL has managed to attract female viewers. How has this trend evolved over the seasons?
IPL’s viewership among women has been consistent from season one. The ratings among women index to 80 vis-à-vis overall rating. This has remained constant right up to season four. So, when ratings have dropped through seasons, the drop has been uniform across men and women. It is not that women have lost interest and dropped off at a faster rate.

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