IPL 6: In the mood for Extraaa

03 Apr,2013

The nine IPL team captains line up after signing the MCC Spirit of Cricket board at the Pepsi Indian Premier League opening ceremony held at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata on April 2. Copyright: BCCI. Photo by Ron Gaunt/SPORTZPICS


By Johnson Napier


The opening ceremony of one of today’s most popular and expensive sporting properties may have matched its impressive track record over the years. And the organisers could thank celebrities like Shah Rukh Khan, Katrina Kaif, Deepika Padukone, rapper Pitbull et al who were joined in force by cricket legends as they steered their way into winning the hearts of the audiences. In fact, the viewership numbers being predicted from the opening ceremony this year is expected to exceed 55 million, a fact that is being reported extensively even across foreign media.


There’s no doubting the effort that has been put in by the organisers and broadcast partner Set Max as the task facing them this year was winning back the audiences that had gone adrift over past few seasons. Apart from a string of new measures and a high-profile marketing campaign, the buzz that was created around IPL 6 was dubbed as being the loudest so far, or so is the claim. Much of the credit to that is being owed to ace choreographer Farah Khan who bought in an element of newness this year with some signature moves involving cricket.


Highlighting the experience this year, Neeraj Vyas, Business Head, Max said, “Firstly, the sentiments have been very positive around the IPL. It follows India’s recent performance against Australia which has kind of boosted cricket sentiments in the country. The other thing about the IPL is that it is cricket of the highest quality and degree and is extremely competitive and edgy, but there is also a lot of entertainment value attached to it. For example, the IPL campaign that we did around IPL this year is very entertainment-led and had director-choreographer Farah Khan playing host. As you’ll observe she is advocating everyone to not just sit but to be a part of the game by dancing to three key moves commonly associated with cricket – fours, sixes and falling wickets.”


In fact the campaign has been a huge hit on the online space where it has crossed the 2 million mark on YouTube. “So the whole scale around IPL is much bigger this year than last year. It definitely has managed to arouse enough hype and curiosity. In fact if you see our marketing budgets, we have invested 15 per cent more than last year. There has been a substantial effort that has gone behind the marketing campaign this year. The same can be reflected through the huge buzz and reach that can be sensed everywhere and across all platforms.”


Not to be left behind in the production department, Set Max has gone the extra mile this year where its studio and expert panelists are concerned. Affirmed Mr Vyas, “We have a brand new set of Extraaa Innings this time around; it is a set that is bigger than any other set that you’ll see in recent times. And joining Gaurav Kapur and Samir Kochhar will be two new hosts, Karishma Kotak and Rochelle Maria Rao. The there’ll also be big names associated with cricket like Navjot Sidhu, Harsha Bhogle, Ajay Jadeja and Sunil Gavaskar. What we’ve also done is added new names to the roster like Kapil Dev and Rameez Raja. They’ll primarily be driving the show in Hindi. So it’s also the best line-up that we have where studio names are concerned.”


Not wanting to stop at that the broadcasters sensed immense opportunity in reaching out to the masses beyond the metros and tier 2, 3 towns and who until now were denied their share of voice in the affair. The wishes of the many Indians who reside in far-off towns and rural belts will be realised as they can enjoy the matches in Hindi as well. Asserted Vyas, “Another new addition this year is the airing of content in Hindi. That was done to essentially reach out to interior pockets of India who are more comfortable with Hindi commentary. Also, if you saw our coverage last year we had upped our quotient of Hindi usage on XIDs. So there was a lot of Hindi banter that happened between the expert panellists which was a decision that was taken intentionally. And this year we have just expanded that by having a dedicated Hindi feed. So the idea was to reach more and more people.”


Number-crunching affair

It has been widely reported on how the IPL this year has heeded the demands of the marketers and have offered them advertising value worth a steal. According to estimates, the channel expects to earn close to Rs 900 crore overall this year and much of this will come from top clients like PepsiCo, which is the title sponsor for the tournament, having signed a deal in the range of Rs 50-60 crore. Set Max has also sealed associate sponsor deals with eight clients including Godrej, Havells, Panasonic, Karbonn Tabs, Usha International, Cadbury, Tata Docomo and Samsung Mobiles.


Highlighting the response received from the clients this year, particularly new entrant PepsiCo, Mr Vyas said, “The response from the clients goes to show that IPL is still a massive brand and secondly, as I said earlier, it is the reflection around the positive buzz surrounding Indian cricket at the moment. So there has been an extremely positive sentiment from the viewers as well as the advertisers.”


He added, “Client-wise if you ask me, the best thing to have happened is Pepsi’s association with IPL – who are the on-ground as well as on-air partners. Given their past history, they will naturally bring in their own flavour to the tournament. I know for a fact that they are planning some special campaigns that will begin during the IPL. In a sense, Pepsi probably understands cricket better than most other brands as they have been associated with the sport for around 15-20 years. So one can expect them to bring in their own creativity around cricket, which is always entertaining to say the least.”


Confirming Mr Vyas’ sentiments, Vinit Karnik, Head of Sports and Live practice at GroupM ESP said through a statement, “We’ve been part of IPL since its inception and we strongly believe that IPL is India’s biggest and the most powerful marketing platform for brands to leverage the combined appeal of cricket and entertainment. This season has been a busy and fruitful season. We had the opportunity to work closely with the Sun Group’s Sunrisers and have enabled the new franchise get off to strong start with 10 on-ground official partnership/sponsorships including Make My Trip, 7UP, Garnier, Kingfisher, Live In Jeans, Manyavar, Sheltrex, RN Sports etc…. We also advised Vodafone backed by a comprehensive valuation exercise based on proprietary data and insights which helped them build a case to renew their on-ground associate sponsorship for another 5 years. Other high profile deals which we managed to facilitate this year included Bajaj Allianz and Mumbai Indians, Flying Machine and Royal Challengers Bangalore among others.” The total value of all the on-ground deals enabled and activated by GroupM ESP in IPL 6 is estimated at US $ 15 mn.


On to another important number that’s watched closely by all, the ratings for IPL 6 is expected to outdo that put up by the previous season. According to statistics released by MEC-Meritus, average TV rating for the league stage is expected to go up from 3.8 last year to 3.9 – an increase of 2.6% (15+ years, Male/Female, SEC ABC). Also, MI (23%), Chennai (19%) and KKR (14%) are the most popular teams while support for Hyderabad has gone up by 200% (2% to 6%). Further, the study notes that Sachin Tendulkar (80), MS Dhoni (79), Yuvraj Singh (76), Virat Kohli (74) and Virender Sehwag (73) are the most popular Indian players in the League while Chris Gayle (60), Ricky Ponting (55), Brett Lee (51) and Kevin Pietersen (50) are the most popular foreign players.


T Gangadhar

T Gangadhar, Managing Director, MEC India, said, “Our study suggests that the IPL seems to have matured as a property. The study clearly establishes that ratings in the first phase (first 18 games) impact the fate of the entire league. With Pepsi activating their title sponsorship in a big way, the BCCI launching the IPL Fantasy League and India’s strong performance against Australia, the first stage of the league could get further momentum.”


According to Mr Vyas, in terms of ratings expectations, “People need to realise that IPL is now a mature and a long tournament that last 76 games spanning 54 days. Nothing of this scale ever exists in the country. In fact about 30 per cent of the games are played in the afternoon…so despite all these ground realities it sustained an average rating of 3.5 last year, which according to me is nothing short of a miracle. If you look at GEC shows today, no one manages to retain audiences over such long periods. And this despite the fact that about 30 per cent of the matches are played in the afternoon. So we will be happy if we are able to retain the ratings at that level or even better it to around 4 or so.”


Amin Lakhani

Agreeing with Mr Vyas, Amin Lakhani, Principal Partner, Mindshare said, “I’ve always maintained from the start that where cricket and especially IPL is concerned, there has been a positive sentiment observed. It kind of picks up in terms of popularity and buzz closer to the start of the tournament. The thing about IPL is that it is now a time-tested property; only last year was an aberration. It has always been a winning property and will continue to do so. It is too early to write it off. And frankly, I am not even bothered about viewership as it a 76-match affair spread across 54 days…whatever ratings it has achieved has been brilliant so far. I can’t think any other property that has managed to do so in such a scale and manner. Where viewership is concerned, I feel even if it manages to hold at 4 or above would be a very good thing.”



Mona Jain

But feelings seem to be mixed for Mona Jain, CEO of Vivaki Exchange, who remarked, “I expect the ratings to display a similar trend to that of last year. Also, where the campaign is concerned I believe they should have started that much earlier on mediums like television, outdoor, radio etc. And the fact that IPL is an established property maybe that’s the reason the broadcaster maybe wanting to push the property closer to the start of the event. I guess more emphasis was paid on leveraging the event then trying to build it up.”


While there may be a few naysayers who’ll be raising questions on the waning demand of the sport in India, SET MAX would want to prove them wrong by posting numbers a notch better than at least the previous season. One will have to wait and watch if King Khan managed to work his charm to at least get the inaugural event off to a flying start.


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One response to “IPL 6: In the mood for Extraaa”

  1. S V Siva says:

    Yet the opening ceremony was tired , jaded and oh so boring ! And SRK should now stop dancing . His huffing and puffing does no justice to sport !

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