Season 5 of the Indian Premier League (IPL) may have played out to packed stadiums, but from a business point of view, the tournament has failed to deliver as a prime-time television spectacle.
Revenues from IPL for the official broadcaster, Multi-Screen Media (MSM), which runs SET Max, plunged 25% this year at Rs. 750 crore compared Rs. 1,000 crore it earned from last year’s edition, sources told HT.
Advertisers weren’t really jostling with each other to buy slots for the controversial-yet-popular event, and industry sources said nearly a third of the ad-spots remained unsold on the channel during the 53-day event.
The conclusion is clear, say analysts: brands no longer see the slam-bang cricket tournament as hot property worth the prices that the broadcaster was offering.
The tournament’s brand value has also dropped by more than a fifth to Rs. 16,060 crore this year, compared to Rs. 20,185 crore last year, despite people thronging the ovals to watch many closely fought matches.
Media buyers and analysts blamed the broadcaster's inflexible strategies demanding high prices during the business-end of the league for advertisers staying away.
"At the start of the season, the channel was expecting to Rs. 1200 revenues from IPL5. The actual, however, turned out to be much lower at around Rs. 750 crore,” said a senior official from MSM, who did not wish to be identified.
Rohit Gupta, president, network sales, MSM, declined to comment on financials and said, “It (IPL 5) made a slow beginning but the event ended on a high note.”
During the final stages, the channel sold the spots for Rs. 10 lakh per ten seconds against the Rs. 15-18 lakh that it charged last season.
“Unlike other channels, SET Max did not offer the flexibility on choosing the packages,” said Sudha Natrajan, chief executive officer, Lintas Initiative Media.
“While media buyers were keen to buy a package for the first 10 or middle 15 matches, they offered to sell either all matches or all alternate matches. Such packages were expensive by at least Rs. 20-30 crore.”Others echoed similar views.
“Many brand categories such as mobile handsets, automobiles and consumer durables had fewer or no brand participation during the tournament this year,” said Navin Khemka, ZenithOptimedia, a media buying and brand agency that manages Honda and Reckitt Benckiser among others.
Brands such as Samsung, Celkon Mobiles, Cadbury-Kraft and Sony India, considered big cricket spenders, entered the fray only during the last stages of the tournament.
“The channel may have failed to monetise over 30% of the ad inventory,” said Jai Lala, Principle Partner at MindShare, media buying house.
According to Brand Finance, UK based brand valuation consultancy, IPL’s brand value has plummeted 20% in 2012, compared to last year.
“It will not be too long before which IPL would have regressed to its benchmark value of $2 billion (Rs. 11,000 crore) in 2009 against the current $2.92 billion (Rs. 16,060 crore),” said M Unnikrishnan, global strategy director, Brand Finance Plc.