Till date, the fate of IPL 2009, the second season of twenty-20 cricket tournament is undecided. This is after the home ministry stated its inability to provide security for the matches since the general elections are also scheduled around the same time.
The Union Home Minister, P Chidambaram had earlier said that it would be difficult to provide para-military forces for matches and elections simultaneously as he did not want the forces to be stretched.
The government wanted the IPL tournament to be postponed till the general elections are over.
The general elections will be held between April 16 and May 13, while the IPL matches are also scheduled between April 10 and May 24.
Now to ensure that the tournament sees the light of the day, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has proposed to alter the schedule of matches. A proposal has been sent to the to the Union Home Ministry for approval.
As per the proposal, the dates and venues of IPL matches would not clash with the dates and places of the polls. However, IPL is not very keen on postponing the tournament.
For instance, if a match was scheduled to be played in Jaipur on a given day, and the date of the poll in the city coincides with it, the match will be moved to another city or on another day.
The second season of IPL matches are to be played in eight cities - Jaipur, Kolkata, Mumbai, Delhi, Mohali, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru.
The fate of IPL is now in the hands of the Union Home Ministry which will further discuss the matter with the Election Commission and the respective state governments where the matches are to be held.
In fact, even if IPL is able to bring in slight changes in the venues and dates, and retain its orginal plan of completing the tournament between April 10 to May 24, it could save face. After all, more than Rs 1000 crore is at stake.
Nandini Dias, chief operating officer, Lodestar Universal tells afaqs!, "The change in venue will certainly affect the on ground advertising and ticket sales, but it is still a smaller part of the revenue compared to the on-air advertising which will not be affected."
"For the television viewers, it doesn't matter on which ground the match is being played," she explains.
However, in case, the tournament is postponed or called off, there could be a few gainers too.
Media observers are of the opinion that the biggest gainer in such a scenario would be the news channels as the general elections are round the corner.
A senior media observer explains, "Although the last season of IPL was successful in increasing family viewership, cricket as a game is skewed towards male viewers. In the absence of IPL tournament, these male viewers would shift to news channels because of elections. The advertising money would then follow."
The dampener for IPL may even turn out to be good news for big reality shows and movies, which were being postponed due to IPL. Also, seasonal advertisers, such as cold drinks and FMCG brands, will put the money in safer bets. "Putting all the money on one big event will be risky. In such a scenario, advertisers will hedge their bets on several things, rather than being dependent on one big property such as cricket," says, Chandradeep Mitra, ex-president, Mudra Max, and now an entrepreneur.
The other point of view that afaqs! garnered is that there would be a status quo. Lead advertisers such as Airtel, Vodafone, Coke, Pepsi and Hero Honda are present across most genres. So it is unlikely that these advertisers will reallocate all the monies kept for IPL on other genres. "These advertisers already have a presence in each of the genres, which is above the threshold level," the observer explains.
Meenakshi Madhvani, managing partner, Spatial Access, however, likes to believe that the rescheduling of the tournament has come in as a boon in disguise for IPL. According to her, the second season of IPL did not turn out to be a money spinner as expected, and the postponing of the tournament would help the organisers save face.
"This would also mean that IPL organisers could buy some time to rearrange their strategies," she concludes.