IPL Media Rights: Indian Streaming’s Watershed Moment is Here!

17 Jun,2022

 

 

By Shailesh Kapoor

 

Shailesh KapoorIPL media rights went under the hammer this week, and the results are out. The overall value of rights has gone up by almost 200%, though the growth is a notch lesser if one looks at the per-match average, as there are more matches lined up in the coming years because of the addition of new franchises.

 

The growing stature and commercial value of IPL is not surprising. It’s literally the only TV property in India that has “event value” today. Gone are the days when big-ticket reality shows rated 4%+. Gone are the days when a single TV show worked across the audience spectrum, amassing event-like numbers every night. In times of highly-fragmented viewership, IPL is the only TV property that has any sense of audience aggregation at all.

 

What surprised me, albeit mildly, is the massive growth in the price of the digital rights. In September 2017, when the last auction was held (for IPL 2018-22), Star India won on a consolidated TV + Digital bid. But if you look at the highest bids for the TV and digital packages individually, they stood at INR 11,050 Cr for TV (Sony Pictures) and INR 3,900 for digital (Facebook). That’s a ratio of 2.83.

 

This time, the main domestic rights (Package A & B) have gone for INR 23,575 Cr (TV) and INR 20,500 Cr (digital), i.e., a ratio of only 1.15. While TV rights have gone up significantly too (even if you look at the per-match average), it’s the change in the ratio that’s a sign of things to come: Digital is no longer niche. It’s as mainstream as TV. Even if the viewership numbers are still higher on TV, digital has the momentum, and the advertiser sentiment, on its side.

 

If you also consider Package C, which is another digital package for non-exclusive rights (eventually taken by Viacom 18 itself, who also took Package B), the ratio of TV to digital is 0.99. In simple terms, from being almost a third of TV rights five years ago, digital rights of IPL have gone for a notch higher than the TV rights this time.

 

The absence of an integrated measurement system will be felt more than ever before. Advertisers now have two equally-sizeable media to put their IPL moneys on. But they won’t have an integrated currency measurement to help them plan it well. This was a lesser issue so far, not only because digital was the smaller piece all these years, but also because the last five years had both rights under the same network, and the selling was often bundled. Both those factors have now changed, and we are in for some eventful times. Both Star India, who continue to hold the TV rights, and Viacom 18 will have to innovate out of their skins to monetise their prized grabs.

 

IPL digital rights crossing TV rights in value is a watershed moment in the Indian entertainment business. Linear TV has lost its pole position this week. And streaming is a worthy successor.

 

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