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Sticky wicket
Meenakshi Madhvani & Kamlesh Balasubramanian /  July 4, 2011, 0:51 IST

Going by the drop in ratings this year, the negotiations for advertising rates for IPL 5 are bound to be harder, says a new study

April 18, 2008, was the start of a cricketing revolution called the (IPL). The IPL grew from strength to strength with each subsequent edition. In 2011, a billion Indians had something huge to celebrate, a win after 28 years; a week later the IPL was back again. The only difference was that this time the hype and all the noise didn’t seem to evoke the same response from the fan base.

Let’s analyse the IPL 4 at a few levels.

Viewership: Let’s take a look at the overall reach (see table 1) of the various IPL editions before going into the drop in ratings in the latest season. In terms of overall audience reached, the figures have been more or less constant across all the editions. IPL 4 reach is no different from the earlier versions. Broadcasters would argue that the IPL 4 has added on fresh audiences. But is this increase in proportion to the increase in the overall universe?

Table 2 indicates a 12 per cent increase (net addition of 18 million viewers) in IPL 4 over IPL 3. This can be attributed to the fact that the overall universe has grown by 11 per cent (overall addition: 19.8 million viewers) in the last one year. The IPL has grown in proportion to the overall universe base and not any higher.

IPL 4 has seen a significant drop in ratings. At an overall level the ratings have dropped by around 27-28 per cent since last year. How can this be explained? The answer lies in the interest levels. The only logical way of measuring this is to understand the time spent by the audience.

IPL 4 witnessed a 30 per cent drop in the average time spent by male audiences. The 30 per cent drop in time spent reflects in the drop in television viewer ratings (TVRs).

Team loyalty: In the first three years of the IPL, the team composition was more or less same. This was a key factor that led to a gradual build up of team loyalty. Post the third edition — when home team loyalty was just about stabilising — most teams were reshuffled. This has helped a few franchisees improve performance in IPL 4, but has brought the “loyalty-building process” back at nought. This is one of the key reasons for the low audience retention in IPL 4.

Building team loyalty takes a lot more than six weeks. Teams like Mumbai and Chennai retained their “core” members; hence have commanded a better share of loyalty. It took quite a few weeks for the audience to get a grasp on the new members in each side. IPL fans would still remember the Deccan Chargers team which won in 2009 — that had the likes of Andrew Symonds, and on board — rather than the current new look DC side.

The buzz certainly was low. The viewership pattern of a team’s matches in its home markets proves this point even better. Even home team ratings showed a drop (see table 4).

What we see here is interesting. Take the case of Kolkata Knight Riders. Despite a much improved performance this year (the first time it has made to the knockouts) the ratings are far lower compared to last year (with a dismal performance). Interestingly, for most games stands at the Eden Gardens stadium were packed.
 

IPL’S REACH (Table 1)
Version CS 4+
YRS
CS MALES
 
25+ ABC
CS F 25
+ ABC
CS MF
25+ABC 
IPL 1 79 82 81 81
IPL 2 77 81 79 80
IPL 3 81 84 81 82
IPL 4 82 83 81 82
CS = cable & satellite homes; ABC is socio-economic
classification; MF = males and females
(Live telecast)
 
INCREASE IN OVERALL UNIVERSE (Table 2)
  IPL 1 IPL 2 IPL 3 IPL 4
Universe 131.6 161.3 179.3 199
12% growth
IPL reach 104 124.2 145.2 163.2
 11% growth
 
VIEWERSHIP IN DIFFERENT MARKETS  (Table 3)
Market 2010 IPL 2011 IPL % Difference
League Semi Final  Overall League  Semi  Final  Overall  Overall League
ALL INDIA   6.1 8.6 14.5 6.3 4.4 6.4 7.9 4.5 -28.1 -28.1
Hindi speaking markets   6.4 8.9 15.3 6.6 4.7 6.7 7.8 4.8 -27.3 -27.2
Andhra Pradesh   4.9 7.5 10.3 5.0 3.0 3.1 4.8 3.0 -39.5 -38.5
Gujarat   8.1 10.9 18.3 8.3 5.8 7.9 10.6 5.9 -28.7 -28.8
Karnataka   6.4 8.1 12.8 6.5 4.3 8.9 10.6 4.6 -30.0 -32.5
Kerala   2.7 4.0 7.7
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