The recent spot-fixing scandal and the beating the Indian Premier League (IPL) brand is taking because of it are not the only worries for the sporting extravaganza. Its all-India TV ratings (TVR), too, are falling, as the enthusiasm among television viewers during the first few matches seems to be fizzling out.
In the first six weeks (59 matches), the average all-India TVR slipped to 2.9 — down 14 per cent from that in the previous season. In the Hindi-speaking markets (HSM), it was down 15 per cent to 3.
However, advertisers are not unhappy yet, despite controversies, corruption charges and drop in ratings. They say they still see value in the tournament.
So, is IPL losing sheen? Sector pundits don’t think so. Shailesh Kapoor, Ormax Media CEO, says IPL-6 has generated more interest than last year. “It is difficult to compare viewership, as the universe for TV ratings changes every year. But in terms of viewer interest, this season has been received well,” he adds.
This year, TAM Media Research, the TV viewership monitoring agency, added LC1 towns (with less than a million people) in the mapping universe, which constitutes 25 per cent of the total. “LC1 towns have their specific problems, including electricity cut-off for many hours a day. The Uttar Pradesh LC1 market itself is 7.5 per cent of the HSM universe, and the state is seriously power-deficient. This has affected the level of overall TV viewership,” a media research executive explains.
Neeraj Vyas, business head of MAX, the official broadcaster of IPL, agrees. “TV ratings of cricket
are low in LC1 towns. And, there is a lot of flux in the market due to Phase-II of digitisation. The transition to digital ratings will take another five-six weeks,” he says.
On value for sponsors like PepsiCo and Vodafone, which have invested heavily in IPL both on-ground and on-air, Kapoor says: “The association between Pepsi and IPL is far stronger than that between DLF and IPL. This is reflecting in Pepsi’s brand recall and effectiveness scores in Ormax Trac20 this year (the syndicated study). Vodafone is the other brand which has benefited from a long-running IPL association. It is now evident that brands associated with IPL for years and using a mix of on-ground and break advertising benefit the most.”
A media agency executive said IPL remained the biggest property to reach the masses. That Multi Screen Media, the broadcast rights holder, managed to rope in the most number of advertisers this season bore testimony to that. The firm, which brought in 12 sponsors and over 70 advertisers for IPL-6, is expected to earn at least Rs 800 crore in advertising revenue this season, compared with less than Rs 700 crore last year.