Will IPL 5 ratings match those of earlier seasons?

04 Apr,2012

 

By Johnson Napier

 

The Indian cricket team’s performance over the last year has left much to be desired. Having suffered humiliation at the hands of several opponents and having failed to pep up ratings with their cricketing prowess, it was a telling sign that all was not going well for the men in blue who were crowned World Champions just about a year ago. Had such a downfall in form gripped any other country, it would have attracted the wrath of the fans that would’ve boycotted the sport by staying away from the game even if it meant empty stands (in stadiums) or viewership ratings on television taking a plunge.

 

But that is precisely what is different about India, especially the bond that its people share with their favourite sport – cricket. Lose or win, big score or small score, there will always be a legion of fans who will continue to stand by the sport (and their idols), and be there in good times and in bad. This probably even sums up BCCI’s recent move in selling the broadcast rights of Indian cricket to Star Group for a staggering Rs 3,851 crore for a period from 2012-2018. One can only empathise with the broadcaster who now requires to come with a foolproof strategy that would see it recover revenues and also arouse curiosity levels amongst advertisers. But that is for later. For now, all eyes are on the most-anticipated tournament – IPL, that kicks off from April 4, 2012.

 

Not wanting to take sides and given the string of ups and downs surrounding cricket in the recent past, experts are opting to play it safe and are predicting viewership ratings to be at par or slightly lower than the past year. In a sense, this augurs well for the wellbeing and popularity of the sport given the uprising it has faced in the recent past particularly with brands many of whom have opted to stay away from the event given the high costs being quoted for a 10-second ad. Also, the fact that a few franchise owners were left in the lurch awaiting divine intervention from the BCCI and with big players not being picked up by stake owners during the bidding process didn’t help solve matters either. And so while an average rating of 3.5 was what IPL managed to throw up in its fourth season, experts predict a somewhat similar rating for the fifth instalment too.

 

Avg. Viewership of all IPL Seasons
Tournament Number of Matches Avg. TVR
IPL Season 1 59 4.81
IPL Season 2 59 4.17
IPL Season 3 60 4.65
IPL Season 4 74 3.5

 

 

Viewership of first match of all IPL Seasons
Tournament First Match TVR
IPL Season 1 L/T DLF IPL T20 KKR/RCB-BG 7.19
IPL Season 2 L/T DLF IPL2 T20 MI/CSK-CT 5.09
IPL Season 3 L/T DLF IPL3 T20 KKR/DC-NM 5.86
IPL Season 4 L/T DLF IPL4 T20 CSK/KKR-CH 7.14

(Source: TAM Peoplemeter System / Market: All India / TG: CS 4+)

* In IPL 1 one match was abandoned due to rain

* In IPL 2 two matches were abandoned due to rain

* In IPL 4 one match was abandoned due to rain

 

According to data from TAM Sports for season 4, the inaugural match between Chennai Super Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders had notched up a 7.14 TVR in the all India market for CS4+ (refer table for data). The number was much higher than what the previous seasons had managed to notch up. But despite the number of matches being increased to 74, the tournament managed an average TVR of 3.5. For season 5, while the tournament average is touted to stay the same the opening day numbers are estimated to be below par than the previous year. Asserts Anita Nayyar, CEO India & South Asia at Havas Media: “There is some commonality in the average ratings that season 5 is expected to throw up from the previous year but where for the opening day numbers are concerned, it could fetch a TVR of 5 or so.” Elaborating on why the numbers would not be as high as the previous years she said, “If you see, there has been an overdose of cricket in the past one year leading it to be a cricket-heavy year for team India. This has resulted in some form of fatigue setting in amongst the masses. The fact that a host of advertisers have opted to stay away from the event this year further signals the plight of the event in the days to come. But one could look forward to the event garnering an average rating of 3-3.5.”

 

Echoing a similar sentiment, Nandini Dias, COO – Lodestar UM said that this year could be one of the bad years for the event where ratings are concerned. “The average ratings have been slipping over the years and would hover around the 3-3.5 mark this year. But what is more concerning this year is the way the advertisers have been treated despite trends suggesting an expected downfall in ratings. With such exorbitant rates, most advertisers have preferred to stay away from the event.” On the opening day numbers to be expected from the event, Dias said, “The buzz around the event this year has been surprisingly low and much of this may have to do with India’s dismal performance in the year gone by. I expect lower opening day numbers compared to last year given the low decibels around the event. Even the sale of tickets is low-profile with many preferring to stay away from making a purchase.”

 

So while a dip in numbers is what is forecast, it would be interesting to see how the broadcasters play up the viewership numbers game as there is a slight change in the opening day schedule of the event. While in previous years, the opening ceremony was followed by a match on the same day, this year the organizers have split the two for separate days. Explains Jai Lala, Principal Partner – The Exchange, Mindshare: “Last year and in the previous years the opening ceremony was followed by a match being played on the same day and the number as such was high but this year there would be a difference in the numbers as the opening ceremony and the match have been separated from each other. So just the ratings from the opening day of the match per se, I would say it would be marginally low but as suggested that is due to the splitting of events. We’ll have to watch how the broadcaster plays up the numbers.” In fact according to Lala, “Season 5 may have an upper hand where the average ratings are concerned as one, there was no World Cup like last year that resulted in fatigue amongst viewers and also the fact that a lot of teams were in a sense rehashed last year resulting in small drop in ratings. But that shouldn’t be the case this time around; hopefully the ratings could be better than what was last year.”

 

Preferring to stay optimistic, Neelkamal Sharma, COO – Buying of Madison Media Group is hopeful of the event managing a good opening in terms of ratings. And his supposition stems from the fact that the “general public’s mood being low due to economic slowdown/ scams/inflation etc hence they may look forward to watch something more entertaining and something that will drive away their attention from regular news.” As for the average numbers per se, he expects the numbers to be somewhat similar to last year +/-5-10 per cent.

 

Having faced the heat last year for reporting a drop in viewership numbers that was backed by an unwarranted hike in ad rates, MSM would probably have to come up with some magic formula that would see them gain their way into the hearts of the viewers and naysayers too. It may help that the reach numbers for the tournament are estimated to be 8-10 per cent higher than last year due to rise in C&S households but the question is: will the viewer cling on to see the event complete the journey in its entirety or will he (or she) quit midway resulting in depleting numbers than previous years? The ball, for now, is in MSM’s court.

 

Image courtesy http://www.facebook.com/IPLSTARS

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