Anirban Roy Choudhury

IPL 2020: Over 30 advertisers have already signed up; Star has sold 60% inventory

Advertisers who've come on board include names like Dream11, PhonePe, Swiggy, Hyundai, HMSI, Muthoot finance, UB group, Indigo paints, Kia motors, Adani Wilmar, Bisleri.

Putting an end to all uncertainty, the Board of Control for Cricket in India has announced that the Indian Premier League 2020 will start on September 19 and end with the final match on November 10. The matches will be played in the UAE and Jay Shah, the secretary of the board, has said, "The 53-day tournament will witness 10 afternoon matches starting at 15:30 IST, while the evening matches will start at 19:30 IST."

The television industry has had the worst possible beginning to this financial year. For most of the first quarter (April-June), the country was in a complete lockdown, resulting in advertisers pulling out from most of their marketing activities. Reports suggest broadcasters might end the July-September period with a 65 per cent degrowth compared to the same period last year. However, experts feel, ad spends will gain momentum on the back of the Indian Premier League.

The official broadcaster of the cricket tournament, Star Sports, is reportedly selling inventory at the rates finalised before the outbreak of coronavirus in the country. If sources are to be believed, the sportscaster has in fact hiked the rates by 20 per cent and is looking at a price of around 12.5 lakh for 10-second-slots.

A source close to the development says, "More than 30 advertisers have already signed up and 60 per cent of the inventory is already sold." Real-money fantasy game platform Dream11, and digital payments company PhonePe have associated as presenting sponsors of the broadcast. Swiggy, Hyundai, HMSI, Muthoot finance, UB group, Indigo paints, Kia Motors, Adani Wilmar and Bisleri are among the other brands that have confirmed their advertising deals during IPL matches on Star Sports.

"Star has seen a surge of interest from internet-enabled businesses like fantasy sports, edutech, online gaming, OTT players and social media players," says a source.

With the matches slated to be played during prime-time in India, and with most of the country staying indoors, the broadcaster feels it will break all viewership records of the past. Experts feel, the IPL in combination with the festive season can help FMCG and BFSI brands to engage with and influence consumers, whose buying behaviour patterns were severely disrupted due to the coronavirus-induced lockdowns.

While online gaming and edutech companies are among the new categories emerging as big spenders during the broadcast of cricket matches, brands headquartered in China are taking a back seat. While speaking at 'Television Week' (our ongoing webinar series around the television business), Shashi Sinha, CEO, IPG Mediabrands India, opined, "This China versus India tussle in the context of advertising on television is overrated." He was of the view that during the IPL many Chinese brands that continue to run operations in India will advertise.

Apart from the inventory during live broadcast, Star Sports has also increased the airtime of its wrap-around shows. The slots during the build-up to the matches are sold at a different price-point. A source close to the development said, "Apart from buying spots for their ads, many brands have purchased assets like aston bands and logo bugs." These assets, the source says, are witnessing a higher demand compared to previous years.

In 2017, Star India had placed a bid of Rs 16,347 crore to win the global media rights of IPL for five seasons between 2018 to 2022.

Along with the broadcast, the matches will be streamed live on Disney+ Hotstar. This year, the broadcasters will have feeds in English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Bangla and Kannada.