7 per cent dip in IPL viewership due to elections: MEC study

By Sapna Nair , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media Publishing | April 13, 2009
mediaedge:cia comes up with predictions for IPL Season 2 and also points out factors that will affect the League's viewership

We are about a week away from the second season of the Indian Premier League. With a new venue, South Africa, a new atmosphere, the economic downturn, and the general elections around the corner, IPL 2 may not reach the pinnacle it did in its last season. mediaedge:cia has undertaken a survey to study the expected performance of the game this season, on the basis of the viewership of the last season.

The objective of the survey was to ascertain the consumer involvement in Season 2 - in terms of the overall interest and the favourite teams and players, the impact of the change of venue, and how viewer time will be divided between the elections and IPL.

The sample size of the agency's survey was 1,568 and it was carried out in 10 cities - all the eight team cities (Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Chennai and Chandigarh) and two neutral cities - Nagpur and Ahmedabad. This was conducted after the announcement of the new venue.

The expected viewership was arrived at, based on the following factors: IPL being in its second season; the level of television viewing in the downturn; the impact of the change of venue; the impact of elections; popularity of the teams and team owners and scheduling of the matches.

Comparing IPL Season 2 with other popular formats on television, Shubha George, managing director, mediaedge:cia, says that usually, successful formats get a higher viewership in the second season. "Indian Idol got a 35 per cent spike in viewership in its second season, while Nach Baliye's viewership increased by 50 per cent. We predict that there could have been a 5 per cent rise in viewership for IPL this time; had all factors remained constant like last year," she said.

When asked whether the change of venue would make them watch fewer matches, 73 per cent of the respondents said "No". On the impact of the general elections, 50 per cent said it would not affect their appetite for IPL, while 10 per cent said they would compromise on IPL to watch the elections. Overall, the drop in viewership is expected to be higher on polling (5 per cent) and counting days (10 per cent).

The agency found other factors that would influence the viewership of the game - performance of home teams, favourite team playing, Indian stars playing, time of the match, which day the match will be held, team owners' profile and in-stadia atmosphere.

Among the teams, Rajasthan Royals clearly tops the popularity charts, followed by Chennai Super Kings, Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders. While city loyalties in Chennai, Jaipur and Kolkata are strong, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Delhi, Chandigarh and Mumbai need to up their loyalties.

Owing to these various factors, mediaedge:cia predicts that there will be a 7 per cent dip in viewership and the average TVR for the 56 league matches will be around 5.1, while the TVRs for individual matches in 2009 could be higher than in 2008.

The first five matches are expected to garner 16 per cent higher TVRs than last year, while the next five will be at par and the others will be much lower than the first season. The first match, between Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings on April 18, is expected to record a TVR of 9.4.

As the League progresses into its third or fourth seasons, it will be easier to gauge the performing teams. And this, George believes, can be leveraged by clients and media agencies to make strategic buys. "We could buy spots for teams, which are likely to be watched more, by paying a premium to the broadcaster; we could also negotiate with the broadcaster for differential pricing for the bottom matches," she observed. This way, an advertiser can reschedule the spots to other channels.

However, this may not be possible immediately. But with time, the agency believes that packages based on teams will be a good, cost-efficient idea.

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