IPL is maturing: Shubha George

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Shubha George, Chief Operating Officer South Asia, MEC

IPL’s fifth season has been on for three weeks now and so far the TV ratings and marketers’ enthusiasm both have been lower than previous seasons. But many feel there is nothing to worry, IPL is just maturing like any other sports event. In the beginning of this season, media agency MEC has come up with IPL predictions (available on pitchonnet.com). To take a close look at IPL viewership patterns, emerging trends and what they mean for marketers, pitchonnet.com spoke to Shubha George, Chief Operating Officer South Asia, MEC. Excerpts…

The first couple of week’s TV ratings of IPL are lowest ever. What’s your take on IPL’s low ratings?
First of all, I don’t agree that this season IPL ratings are bad. I feel it’s not fair to compare first fifteen match of last season with this season’s. Last season the matches started on a weekend while this season they started mid-week. One has to factor-in these things. Also, if you look at our estimation of IPL performance in fifth season (MEC study predicted average TRP of 3.8 for IPL 5), the current ratings of IPL 5 is actually slightly higher than that.

One has to understand that any sporting event, when it comes to its fifth year, indeed has to have a certain degree of maturity. That is the case with IPL. In fact, I think it is not realistic to expect that in its fifth edition IPL will do as good as its first or second season. So, if some marketers went and invested in this IPL expecting it to do better than it did in season three then it is a wrong and unrealistic estimation on their part. But, if some marketers had realistic expectations from this IPL it is certainly performing to meet those.

But a lot of categories like automobiles, consumer durables and others, which have been key sponsors on the IPL platform in the past seasons have stayed away from it this time. Why are they shying away from IPL this season?
Well, one thing is that the overall economic situation in the country has been cautious and categories like automobiles and consumer durables are the ones affected the most by it. That’s why they are cautious in their media spending this year.  Also, in automobiles mostly brands advertise on IPL when they have a new launch. While this time around there hasn’t been much happening on that front in the sector. Probably that’s also keeping them away from the platform.

But Hyundai, which has cricket as a key part of its media strategy and been present on IPL’s previous season, launched new i20 and a new campaign. Still the brand is staying away from IPl. What probably could be the reason for that?
I am sure Hyundai would have evaluated IPL. I would say probably if there was a new brand launch or an entirely new car, then will make more sense for an automobile marketer to spend on IPL provided they can afford it. One has to take into consideration the fact that IPL is an expensive property, even if the rates remain same or go low, the viewership is maturing.  Thus, one has to take that in consideration before opting for this platform. IPL is becoming more and more premium for marketers.

IPL viewership online has been very high this season until now. According to you what is driving the viewership online for this media platform?
Online viewership of IPL  going up is quite natural and expected because overall internet medium is on an upswing. Also, one’s ability to watch videos on internet has improved because better bandwidth is also growing and that is also driving the online viewership of the game. This is something that was anticipated.

According to you what kind of categories and advertisers will come for IPL online?
I assume categories which have more consumers online and/or don’t have the budget to get associated on TV will choose to advertise on IPL online platform. And that’s a good idea. While, online IPL may not deliver the reach as high as TV but it will certainly be more cost effective and easily measurable.



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Abhinav Mohapatra

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