Indian Premier League (IPL), one of the most keenly awaited events in India, has now been suspended indefinitely as several players from three IPL teams have tested COVID positive. Many Sports analysts have been commenting as to why the IPL is being conducted when so many are affected with Covid. Finally today BCCI bit the bullet and BCCI Chairman Brijesh Patel announced that the 14th edition of Indian Premier League has been indefinitely suspended with a detailed statement to follow soon. A new window will be worked out on a later date. Broadcaster Star India has come out in support of BCCI’s decision.
The recent spike in COVID cases has brought our country to a grinding halt and forced not only sporting activity but most events to be either postponed indefinitely or cancelled; IPL was a blessing in disguise and became an escape for many from the grim reality facing us.
The Cumulative Reach per match dipped by 9.6% for the first 2 weeks of IPL 14 vs IPL 13 while viewing minutes per match fell by 20% as per BARC India. In view of this suspension we spoke to a few experts on how this will affect brand IPL and the advertisers who have invested heavily on IPL’.
Ashish Bhasin’s (CEO APAC and Chairman India, dentsu),“Given the prevailing pandemic situation, I think it is the right decision to postpone IPL for now. The health and safety of all the players and everyone involved I think is paramount and keeping in mind the situation in the country and the prevailing mood in the nation, in my view it is the right decision.
IPL is the single largest property on television in India and something that appeals to a wide target audience, across the geographies. It has unparalleled reach and has always proven to be an excellent vehicle for brands and I think that will continue to be so and that will not change.
Given the fact that several parts of the country are going into lockdown, there are emergency measures been taken in different cities and towns to curb the pandemic, the severe shortages and difficulties being experienced, lives being lost to the pandemic, I think it is more appropriate to focus on that then on commercial issues for now. I’m sure the commercial issues will get discussed and resolved in an appropriate manner.”
As per Duff & Phelps, if the tournament had merely been suspended and restarted within a week or two, it might not have much of a difference to the revenues of the IPL or that of the franchisees. Yes, there would have been some logistical problems and some additional costs may need to have been incurred. However, given the overall size of the IPL juggernaut, those costs and inconveniences would not have been material.
However, it appears that that the tournament is postponed indefinitely, which would have the following impact:
- IPL would suffer significant revenue losses for the current season. There will be loss of sponsorship and broadcasting revenues for BCCI. The league was already coping with loss of revenues from ticket sales and in-stadia F&B, besides the loss of revenue last year due to VIVO pulling out for the 2020 season.
- The teams will also suffer revenue losses on account of reduced revenue from the central pool and loss of team sponsorship revenues.
Having said that, one must also acknowledge that while it was on-going over the last few weeks, the IPL provided 3-4 hours of much needed diversion and relief to the Indian masses who are reeling under a barrage of bad news on the Covid front. IPL’s ability to pull TV audiences continues unabated. Secondly, the value of any enterprise is based on its future cash earning capacity. To our mind, while there will be some revenue loss this year, the future revenue generation ability of the IPL is undiminished.
Chetan Asher , Founder & CEO – Tonic Worldwide, “With the bio bubble breached and the current situation in the country, suspension of IPL was inevitable and probably the right thing to do. For advertisers the impact will be in terms of redrawing their plans, redirecting their investments to other mediums and maybe even evaluating if advertising investments allocated for IPL can be directed towards driving support and on ground impact in worst affected cities. More so for first time advertisers, they can be nimble, drive change and emerge stronger”.
Mitesh Gangar, Co-Founder and Director, PlayerzPot “IPL has always been a bringer of good cheer and celebration. Last year, when the world’s live sports events were cancelled, IPL 2020 was the lone ray of sunshine in an otherwise locked down and sports starved world. The way it was professionally managed while ensuring all safety procedures were followed, seriously deserves kudos! But with the way the virus has been changing and spreading this year, the pause is good if it ensures the health, safety and well-being of everyone working to pull this off seamlessly. At PlayerzPot, we understand that the bigger picture is one of a healthy, virus-free world, and if pausing this edition of the IPL can help safeguard our players and their families, then, while it is definitely expensive, it is still a small cost to pay in the larger scheme of things.”
Ambika Sharma, Founder & MD, Pulp Strategy said “The battle with Covid-19 which started an year ago has disrupted the operations across the globe. In India, with its huge populace it has become a daunting task to overcome despite safety and Covid-19 protocols. The IPL which is an extremely popular event that everyone looks forward to, should not have been allowed as the charm and excitement of watching and engaging on the ground can not be matched with watching it at home without your friends and dear ones and right now you see only devastation in either your neighbourhood, family or anywhere. The high stakes of IPL should have been looked into esp when we see players falling to Covid infections. The infection can have multiple manifestations on the health of the players which can lead to serious lifelong illness. While we stare at huge losses be it Sponsors, Broadcasters, BCCI, the environment is least conducive to host these matches. A mutually agreeable formula by key stakeholders can be adopted transparently to arrive at a decision esp when the medical experts are warning us about the Covid peak”.