For advertisers, IPL still lucrative

NEW DELHI: Media-buying companies that buy airtime worth crores of rupees for advertisers continue to view the Indian Premier League with unbridled enthusiasm despite the unceremonious exit of its flamboyant commissioner Lalit Modi and a spate of controversies that have bedeviled the T20 cricket tournament this season.

Though it is early days to portend the advertising prospects of the fourth season, the pervasive mood among these companies is that

IPL

retains its lucrative aura for advertisers.

“The controversies have impacted the IPL administration and not the tournament per se,” said R Gowthaman, the South Asia leader of Group M’s Mindshare, which buys airtime for advertisers such as Hindustan Unilever, PepsiCo and GlaxoSmithKline.

Through the three seasons, IPL has drawn a raft of advertisers numbering nearly 100 from sectors as perse as mobiles to tyres. The tournament’s broadcaster SET Max has squeezed in commercials even between overs this season, much to the viewers’ chagrin.

SET is estimated to have raked in up to Rs 900 crore from IPL-III, double its earnings from the previous edition in South Africa, by doubling the rates for a five-second or 10-second ad spot. Media buyers say the spot rates are unlikely to be dented next season.

“Cricket has seen so many controversies in the past such as match-fixing and betting. Yet, the sport manages to charge a premium,” said Sam Balsara, chairman and MD of Madison World, which represents Bharti Airtel and General Motors among other advertisers.

“If the ad rates do fall to some extent, it would be because the number of IPL matches doubling, which could create advertiser fatigue,” he said.

Indeed, advertisers are conscious of the overarching reach of IPL. The tournament was beamed to 138 million households this season against 100 million in the first year and 121 million in the second.

“No other television programme gives us a platform to reach millions of viewers in one shot,” said a top executive of a beverages maker, requesting anonymity.

The tournament’s popularity too remains spotless. Media tracking agency TAM said 10 matches played during April 11-17, at the height of controversies, grabbed an average television rating of 4.03 while the 53 IPL matches have collectively matched last season’s rating of 4.5.

“The ratings of IPL 3 have not been impacted at all with the controversy; so advertisers have naturally got bang for their buck,” said Mr Gowthaman.