Due to the general election, and the security necessary for it, the initial matches of the seventh edition of the IPL will be held in the UAE instead of India. But the IPL is competing with the elections for more than just physical, logistics related issues.
Sure, one can't compare apples and oranges - especially when the purpose and scale is this different - but there's no denying that these two very different national events are currently vying for attention from the same Indian consumer.
We asked industry experts whether the IPL is competing with the elections for public attention, and deliberately refrained from specifying whether the article was being written from the perspective of advertising, TV viewership, engagement across other media channels such as print, or even from the perspective of consumers' thoughts in general.
Vinit Karnik, national director, Sports and Live Events, GroupM ESP
The IPL is a huge property. Buzz around the league, along with brand engagement and entertainment, is amplified. For the last six seasons, the IPL has occupied a spot in the heart and mind of every Indian. However, the General Election is another high impact event of greater national interest. This event reaches out to a cross-section of society, regardless of socio-economic class and interest levels.
Brands will continue to associate with the IPL in its seventh season too. One also needs to consider that this year most of the franchisee deals were up for renewal, hence a greater supply of inventory is expected. With election related content hogging majority air time, especially on news channels, brands would be looking at more ground-level activations and promotion through the digital medium to reach out to and engage their audience.
Indians are definitely excited about both the IPL and the elections. This year, the parties have utilised lections all mediums - print, hoardings, TV, radio, digital. They are all abuzz with various campaigns and this definitely does improve overall advertising spends, as predicted by the GroupM TYNY (This Year Next Year) 2014 Report.
Melroy D'Souza, COO, Professional Management Group (Madison's sports marketing division)
I don't think they will really have to compete anywhere apart from on one front - news. While newspapers have a different section for sports, there are pages dedicated to political coverage, and hence there isn't much clash between the two. I feel news channels will make some difference to the IPL because they contribute a lot in creating buzz around the property which actually percolates down to the masses. If they report extensively about the elections now, it will have an impact on the IPL in people's minds.
Other than that, on advertiser front, it doesn't make much of a difference; most of them have already been locked. Advertisers have already allocated their budgets for the IPL. For instance, Pepsi has already earmarked its budget for the IPL, and whether or not there is an election, won't make a huge difference.
Shailendra Singh, joint managing director, Percept Limited
In a way, yes. I guess the comparisons between the IPL and the elections are being made because both of them are high on the entertainment factor. The current election is an instance of 'poster-boy politics'. There is less agenda and more popularity, as there is Narendra Modi on one side and Rahul Gandhi on the other. The election has never been so iconic and that's why it's more about general entertainment this time. Party manifestos are out. Even the ad campaigns are entertaining!
On the other hand, the IPL has never been a sport; it's entertainment. Everyone - right from women at home to bus conductors - is talking about both the IPL and the elections, though the seriousness quotient of the latter is higher. For me, both fall into this 'general entertainment' category and are hence, in a way, competing for consumer attention.
AJ Christopher, head, sales and marketing, Eenadu
I don't think so. Though both the IPL and the elections cater to the same gender (males), the age group for the two (in terms of interest levels) is different. There are many first time voters this time but, advertisers know that 30+ audiences are more election-skewed while those between 12 and 29 years are primarily attracted towards the IPL.
Those in the 30+ group are more interested in the details of the elections - who is ahead by how many seats, etc. On the contrary, those in the 12-29 years group don't want to get into the micro-level analysis of the elections. Therefore, the two events can co-exist, from an advertising perspective.
In terms of TV viewership, the IPL will have more of a 'mainstay' at home as it is entertainment content. People might switch to news channels for an update on the elections once every few minutes, but it won't really affect IPL viewership. Also, the matches will be broadcast for just few hours in the evening. Until and unless they clash with the counting days (post voting), I don't think IPL viewership will be affected. No any disruption as such is expected. Also, the 12-29 years group can be updated about both events through social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
Prithviraj Banerjee, head, strategic planning, Rediffusion-Y&R
The general election should be a far more necessary process to partake in. In the greater consciousness of India, there can be nothing more important than selecting a government that can take our country forward. However, we are great at creating mental compartments that allow all our passions and duties to co-exist. The upcoming elections are no doubt, the talk of the country, but it is not the only thing on our minds. Despite the accusations of match-fixing and scandals, cricket will always continue to be a part of our DNA, and the IPL will be consumed voraciously.
Logistically (and luckily), post May 12, the last day of voting, the tournament will enter its more exciting, final stages. This ensures that the clash of attention will be restricted to a lot of the initial matches. And judging by the last few years, it's the tail-end of the tournament that creates excitement, not the initial run-in. This fact should allow our nation to focus on the elections, and then move on to the most exciting part of the IPL, without compromising either.
Sudip Ghose, vice president, marketing, VIP Industries
The IPL is something that happens every year but the elections are happening after five years. Yes, there will be some amount of division in consumer attention. On the news front, both will be equally divided. Having said that, I'll add that once the trends on the elections are out, and there is an indication as to which political party is winning, interest in the IPL will increase, unless of course, the core audience is highly interested in the elections.
This year, the general election has come as an opportunity for advertisers and spending on it is a safer choice. It is cheaper too, considering how high the ad rates on the IPL are. Marketers will decide which option is more relevant, and that depends on their TG. If the brand is appealing to a younger audience, for example, then it will advertise on the IPL.