Suraj Ramnath

Star India and The IPL Jackpot: An Analysis

The broadcaster has seen an overall growth of 15 per cent in total viewership of IPL 11 compared to IPL 10 on Sony. The final match saw a growth of 41 per cent.

When Star India won the broadcasting and digital rights for the Indian Premier League in 2017 for a whopping Rs 16,347.50 crore, it meant that the broadcaster had to pay Rs 54.5 crore per match to BCCI. Back then the only question was - how is Star India going make a return on that investment?

If one thinks about the recall of IPL ads, people would easily talk about ads made by Sony Entertainment Television such as - 'Carnival ad', 'Dil Jumping Japang', 'Pista song' etc. where the broadcaster had packaged the league as entertainment as opposed to sports. Whereas when Star India launched its 'Best vs Best' campaign in March this year, it was quite evident that the broadcaster wanted to re-package IPL and wanted people to see it more like a sport than entertainment. But in terms of ad recall for IPL 11, only time will tell if fans will remember the ad made by Star India.

Star India and The IPL Jackpot: An Analysis

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According to a senior media planner, the broadcaster has earned around Rs 1600-1800 crore from ad revenues. Industry sources indicate that Star India earned close to Rs 600 crore from distribution and international digital streaming rights would have also have earned the broadcaster close to Rs 600 crore, making it total revenue of close to Rs 2800-3000 crore.

Star India managed to sell their ad inventories at an average of Rs 10 lakhs per 10-seconds in this year's IPL, on TV. With IPL 11 done and dusted and with the ratings provided by BARC India, it is evident that Star India has succeeded in achieving an overall growth of 15 per cent in total viewership for this edition of the competition as compared to that of Sony Max and Six. IPL 11 (60 matches) garnered 1.4 billion Impressions, 15 per cent more than IPL 10 which garnered 1.2 billion Impressions.

Barring the finals, the broadcaster aired IPL on Star Sports 1 (SD+HD), Star Sports 1 Hindi (SD+HD), Star Sports 1 Tamil, and Star Sports Select 1 (SD+ HD). During the finals, the broadcaster roped in its GEC and movie channels as well - Star Suvarna Plus, Star Maa Movies, Asianet Movies, Star Plus (SD+HD), Star Gold (SD+HD), Star Pravah, and Jalsha Movies. The ratings for the finals include that of DD Sports as well.

IPL 11's final match between Chennai Super Kings and Sun Risers Hyderabad garnered 55.6 million Impressions. This is up 41 per cent from IPL 10's final that was between Mumbai Indians and Rising Pune Supergiants, which garnered 39.4 million Impressions.

Another set of data that was shared by BARC was that IPL 11 saw growth of regional language viewership as well. Hindi language contributed to 54 per cent of viewership followed by English at 24 per cent and regional at 22 per cent.

But according to Dinesh Rathore, chief operating officer, Madison Media Omega, Star India shouldn't take or be given the entire credit for the 15 per cent increase in the overall reach. "Based on one final's ratings, we can't expect the ad rates to go up. Had the entire tournament delivered something like this, it would be different. For the rates that Star India was selling inventories and the reach numbers of the final match being so good, that can't be the benchmark."

Star India and The IPL Jackpot: An Analysis

Dinesh Rathore

Star India and The IPL Jackpot: An Analysis

Deepak Netram

According to Rathore, Star's changing the packaging of IPL from entertainment to a pure sports property was not the right way to go. "Star has fallen short on that point. It failed to create any newness compared to other seasons, this was the most competitive IPL so that, as well as the comeback of CSK, has actually brought in the viewership. But I don't want to take away any credit from Star, but next year, they will need to package the property in a better way", he adds.

Rathore points out that there is no denying that IPL is a huge property and advertisers are expecting reach. "They are expecting reach and deliver on a consistent basis and you can't criticise Star for asking for higher rates, but at the end of the day, the advertisers will want more reach. It was not like their expectation of IPL was any less", he says.

Deepak Netram, senior vice president, Lodestar UM, says, "I think it is not just about the reach but making IPL a stronger and bigger property. Yes, the additional audience numbers achieved do add on and really work, but as a network, Star put their full might into IPL and that was great."

Netram adds, "All brands on IPL eventually benefit from the property as it rakes in ratings at a time when several big-ticket properties don't deliver as consistently. That's a big high and should lead to positivity. At least I haven't sensed any unhappiness from brands. The finals got multi-channel exposure and became a grand celebration."

According to Netram, the comeback of MS Dhoni's CSK in this IPL was something to look forward to, but not the sole reason for the ratings achieved by the broadcaster. "Ultimately, the property has also been established based on what broadcast networks and their coverage provide. Certainly, CSK's come back was a big high, but I think it's more about the way the property is and the impact it creates. There are on-going surprise elements that continue to keep up the momentum and peaks in viewership. Like every year, there are exciting nail-biter finishes or big-hitters in the series. Even underdog teams have made the season interesting. It manages to create greater excitement towards the playoffs and the finale, almost every year," he adds.

Netram believes that IPL 11 continued to be as entertaining as it was, if not more. He says, "Star has added more flavour to the property and its packaging. Ultimately, it is the content that drives audiences and that, by and large, is what works. Getting the finale on with all network channels did create the big boost. I don't think there is any change in terms of the content becoming serious from entertaining. Several new elements were introduced, in fact, they made it entertaining and engaging."

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