Anirban Roy Choudhury

"People like to watch IPL on big screens": Rohit Gupta, Sony Pictures Networks

A quick look at the recently concluded annual tournament from the broadcaster and advertiser's lens.

The Indian Premier League (IPL) tournament is turning out to be that single malt special edition which keeps getting better with time. Last year, the ad revenue target was Rs 1,000 crore. This year, Sony has met its goal of touching Rs 1,200 crore in ad revenue from the cricketing extravaganza.

We spoke to Rohit Gupta, network sales president, Sony Pictures Networks, about the tourney that was.

"People like to watch IPL on big screens": Rohit Gupta, Sony Pictures Networks
Buoyed by his Network's performance and the reaction the tournament garnered, Gupta says, "One more year of IPL passes... it just shows how the tournament is now established as a marquee property. Though I have not seen the final numbers, what I get to know is the reach has further bettered, which is a great sign."

The IPL offers brands the opportunity to reach eyeballs constantly until the tournament ends. Since there is no national pride involved, every match is considered as equally important and fans stay glued throughout. Which does not happen during an ICC tournament when only India matches get high viewership.

"This is the first time we had three presenting sponsors; we also had many brands coming in for the first time. Since last year, we've had brands earmark the IPL tournament in their calendar, which shows how the tournament is getting bigger and broader," asserts Gupta.

He thinks the tournament will keep growing irrespective of the circumstances around it. The IPL was digitally streamed by Hotstar and (online video verticals of Star India). The digital platforms, too, rely heavily on advertising for revenue.

So, will digital impact TV? No, says Gupta, adding, "The IPL is a tournament which is known for community viewing. People like to watch it live on big screens. The digital streaming is nowhere close to impacting the TV ad revenue or viewership. The first preference of viewers will always be TV for a tournament like the IPL," he adds.

"People like to watch IPL on big screens": Rohit Gupta, Sony Pictures Networks
"For a brand like us, which caters to mass, a tournament like the IPL does a great job," opines Malay Dikshit, chief communications officer, Tata Sky. "We are extremely happy with the association we've had so far. It is an event through which one can deliver multiple messages to a great audience. Another beauty of the tournament is its popularity in the hinterlands. So, it makes media planning easier," he adds.

If there is a creative presentation which demands a 'vehicle' like the IPL, Tata Sky will associate again with Sony, says Dikshit. "It is the creative (ad) that defines the vehicle. If we have a message to spread across we will associate with the IPL, and not just the IPL, but with all marquee properties," he says.

The media rights of the tournament will go under the hammer next season, which will also mark the end of the 10-year-deal with Sony Pictures Networks. Sony, as per the signed contract, has the Right of First Refusal (RoFR).

On the other hand, the Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) president Anurag Thakur has already mentioned that the board is eyeing a "manifold" hike in the media rights acquisition cost. He also said the RoFR will not be part of the new deal.

"We will see when the time comes, and we will plan accordingly," concludes Gupta, about the 10th season.

This year, the trophy went to Sunrisers Hyderabad as David Warner and company toppled Virat Kohli's Royal Challengers Bangalore in a roller-coaster tussle.

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