IPL 2018: THE ROI SCORECARD
Even as thousands of fans were on tenterhooks, following each ball of the grand finale of the Indian Premier League 2018 being played at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium on May 27, for the more than 125 advertisers betting big on India’s Superbowl equivalent, it was time to assess if the big bucks spent – particularly if they were on board as a sponsor – had reaped the desired dividends.
When Star India won the global media rights for the IPL with a staggering bid of Rs 16,347.50 crore for a period of five years, the first thought on everyone’s mind was how would Star recover its hefty investment? In addition to looking to increase its distribution revenues, it is estimated that Star hiked the advertising rates for the latest season of IPL by at least 35-40% over rates of the last season. In addition, advertisers were promised a 25% increase in viewership. So, did this happen? It must be kept in mind that Sony broadcast IPL on its mass movie channel, Sony Max. Star, on the other hand, bet on its Sports portfolio. It did telecast on Star Maa Movies (Telegu feed), Jalsha Movies (Bengali feed) and Star Suvarna Plus (Kannada feed). However, the initial reports indicated that the reach of IPL was on the lower side. This probably prompted Star to telecast the final on 17 different feeds – up from the initial 10 – and it also added two new language feeds, Marathi and Malayalam, in addition to the earlier six languages; besides the digital platform Hotstar. Star India’s intent was clear: expand the reach.
With big ticket Bollywood stars brought in to add glamour and an extra element to the cricketing extravaganza, it was clear that the network was pulling out all stops to get maximum viewer engagement. While estimates peg the revenue raked in by Star India at Rs 1800 to Rs 2000 crore in IPL 11 - a significant jump from the Rs 1300 crore revenue figure of IPL 10 - the question that arose was, did Star India deliver on reach to advertisers invested in IPL, as promised at the outset of the tournament?
A BIGGER, BETTER IPL
Right from the time Star India won the global media rights for the Indian Premier League in September 2017, it had embarked on building up the tournament to make it bigger and better than earlier. But it was no easy feat, says Basabdatta Chowdhury, Managing Partner & Head of Trading, Publicis Media. “IPL has always been a big property, so making it bigger and better was always going to be tough. I could be wrong, but I do not recall seeing such ratings earlier in cricket or the IPL. Sony did a great job in the previous years, but it is commendable that Star is taking the property to a bigger, better level. We are yet to see the data from the finals, but the data we have so far indicates that ratings across India grew by 30% this year,” Chowdhury points out.
Star’s language feeds proved to be a game-changer, especially in markets such as Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, where viewership is said to have grown by close to 50%. But at the heart of everything Star did was the IPL fan. Explains Saurabh Jain, Vice President, South, Havas Media, India who handled the media duties for Swiggy this IPL season, “This year's IPL was focused on the cricket and the quality of the game, more than entertainment. For example, the special commentators on Star Select 2 in the Dugout, highlighted the importance given to cricket lovers.”
THE QUESTION OF REACH
Reach was key this IPL, especially since advertisers had huge expectations from Star. While the performance seems to have been maintained in the Hindi-speaking Markets (HSM), what really drove up the numbers was the South markets. Data from the final games is still awaited, but Jigar Rambhia, National Director - Sports and Entertainment Partnerships, Wavemaker India, says that the network definitely delivered in terms of reach and TV rating points as the tournament progressed. “Though the final numbers are not yet out, you can clearly see that the event this year was very closely followed. There is a 10%-12% increase in TVRs, and while the reach is kind of maintained across the country, I am sure with the finals being telecast on a GEC as well as a movie channel, the reach will be almost the same if not more than last year, once the final numbers come in. Moreover, all this time, the performance in the South markets was always a question mark because Sony didn’t have the kind of reach that Star does there. So we have seen excellent growth in the South markets.”
The apparent lack of growth in the HSM belt may also be attributed to the fact that Star chose to telecast its games initially only on its Sports channels, unlike Sony, which chose a mass channel like Max. Vanita Keswani, CEO, Madison Media Sigma, believes that the data from the finals might just make up for this gap. “On Star Sports 1, the Hindi platform, outperformance did not really happen to the extent we had envisioned. In fact, rural and some urban states underperformed as well, which could be attributed to the lesser reach of Star Sports in select geographies versus Max, a mass movie channel. Hopefully, the impact of the finals is expected to make up for this,” Keswani says.
Even as advertisers and media planners await the data from the finals, one thing is clear: Star India may or may not have achieved the reach it envisioned, but it definitely has succeeded in creating a bigger IPL.
(With inputs from Simran Sabherwal)
BRANDS TALK ROI FROM IPL 11
More than 125 brands partnered Star India in IPL 11, compared to about 70 in IPL 10. This year, the co-presenting sponsors were Vivo, Coca-Cola and Jio and the nine associate partner brands were Future Group, Polycab, Parle Products, AMFI, MakeMyTrip, Vimal Pan Masala, Asian Paints, Dream 11 and Haier. While estimates peg ad spends this IPL at almost Rs 2,000 crore, we find out if brand marketers think it was worth their while in terms of return on investment
Director, Brand Strategy, Vivo India
Head - Marketing, Passenger Vehicle Business Unit, Tata Motors
Vice President, Marketing Paytm
Group CMO, Goibibo
Category Head, Parle Products
President, Haier Appliances India
VP, Marketing, Swiggy
Executive Vice-President, Marketing, Vodafone
COO, Non Movies, Bookmyshow.com
JMD & CMO, Parle Agro Pvt. Ltd
Head of Marketing - India Region, HMD Global
Managing Director, Gulf Oil Lubricants India Ltd
Director - Marketing (Chocolates), Mondelez India
Saying the reach has been a disappointment, Sakhuja adds, “We had expected the numbers (2+ U+R) to go up to 500 million Indians, but that fell even marginally short of last year’s 400 million. I am giving you numbers based on Matches 1-52. I expect that with Star broadcasting the finals on virtually their entire network, the final’s reach will spike, and they may have a growth story for the full tournament. In short, advertisers with a South and Metro focus would be delighted. Those with a HSM Rural focus less so.”
Basabdatta Chowdhury, Managing Partner & Head of Trading, Publicis Media, confirms that the IPL has seen tremendous success in markets like Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata. “Tamil and Telugu feeds have been excellent, and in the East, West Bengal saw a growth in ratings of almost 50%. However, the Karnataka market didn’t do as well as the other Southern markets. Kannada saw a growth in line with the all-India numbers, but the expectation was 45%-50% because that’s the trend we have seen with most other language feeds. The Hindi speaking markets haven’t really dropped, my data tells me in terms of ratings, viewership grew by 30% here, but we still have to see the data from the finals,” she says.
By all accounts, the general consensus is that this was a successful IPL season, and advertisers definitely got the ROI they were looking for. “Despite being the first season on Star, IPL fared decently well from the point of view of creating buzz, building increased visibility for brands especially on Digital, better viewer experience and better integration between offline and online campaigns for brands. There were several closely contested games too, which helped Star’s case,” says K Srinivas Rao, National Director - Buying, Mediacom.
HITTING THE DIGITAL JACKPOT
Hotstar raised its game this year, enhancing viewer experience and engagement, and delighting advertisers in the process. “One of the best things Star did was to tie up with Jio and Airtel TV which helped them increase the Hotstar reach exponentially thereby creating records in live streaming & concurrency,” explains Rao. This season of the IPL has featured multiple high points for Hotstar as it broke world records in concurrent viewership, hitting a peak of 10.3 million simultaneous users during the final. With initiatives like ‘Play Along’, audience engagement grew on the Digital space. While there may have been user fatigue given the fixed format of the game, Star India used its Digital platform as an opportunity to reach more viewers. Kunal Jamuar, Managing Partner West and South, Havas Media India, adds that cheaper data rates have also helped Hotstar’s case.
“As data rates have reduced, Hotstar has garnered record audiences this season. At the end of the day, while one may see an incremental reach this year, advertisers would do well to remember that from here on it will be difficult to show an increase year on year in viewership,” he says pointing out that reach may not be everything when it comes to ROI.
In the future seasons of IPL, benchmarks will have to be recalibrated and Digital platforms will have a key role to play. “What we are seeing is possibly a higher rating on account of additional platforms, higher unpredictability (on who would qualify) leading to more interest, and hence, viewership,” explains Jamuar. “However, going forward, growth will be driven more on digital platforms than on the channels by themselves.”
Tags : Cover Story