Mumbai: More money, more viewers, and a much bigger digital advertising and marketing opportunity—that’s the promise of next month’s cricket World Cup in New Zealand and Australia and the Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 tournament that will start in April.
Together, the two could see a combined advertising spend of between Rs.2,200 crore and Rs.2,500 crore. Of this, the cricket World Cup alone could account for Rs.1,200-1,500 crore.
The number compares well with the over Rs.1,500 crore spent on advertising during the 2011 Cricket World Cup and IPL in India, according to various media buyers. IPL is organized by the Board of Control for Cricket in India.
The last edition’s revenue was bolstered by the fact that the games happened in India, which meant the timing suited local viewers—this year’s matches will take place between 3.30am and 12 noon India time—and advertisers also splurged on in-stadia advertising.
They will continue to do so this year too (the in-stadia advertising in any match featuring India anywhere in the world is dominated by Indian brands) although the magnitude may not be as much.
Apart from India’s status as pre-tournament favourites in 2011, there is another difference between cricket World Cup 2015 and cricket World Cup 2011. Back then, India had 121 million Internet users. This number is expected to touch 213 million users by June this year, according to a report by Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and IMRB International, a market researcher. In January 2013, Star Sports, part of Star India, which is part of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. launched its website and app, offering subscribers opportunities to see matches live online. Around 64 million viewers (of this 32 million were unique visitors) did so for the last edition of IPL, streamed live on Star Sports and its apps, through a partnership the company struck with digital rights owner Bennett, Coleman and Co. Ltd (BCCL), aka the Times Group. Star Sports has already launched a campaign promoting its digital offerings during the World Cup, as has Cricbuzz, a website owned by the Times Group.
“Star will be broadcasting this World Cup in six languages, making it far more inclusive than any other sporting tournament on TV,” said Sanjay Gupta, chief operating officer, Star India. He said the channel will offer new advertising models and multiple packages to suit advertisers with varying budgets and objectives—a first in sports sponsorship in the country.
That will work for both advertisers and Star, by allowing an unprecedented number of brands to ride the World Cup wave, double that of any other tournament in the past, according to Gupta.
He added that car maker Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, consumer products company Lloyd Electric, food company Nestle India and apparel firm Raymond Ltd have already come on-board.
E-commerce firm Paytm will be seen advertising on both World Cup and IPL. “We are looking at Super 4’s property in the World Cup,” said Shankar Nath, senior vice-president at PayTm. Super 4 means that whenever someone hits a four during a match, the company logo will appear on the side of the TV screen.
“We are looking with great interest at the cricket season ahead…We are planning to spend millions of dollars. Cricket is one property which helps establish a mass connect in India,” Nath added.
Soft drinks giant PepsiCo India, motor oil and lubricants company Castrol India Ltd and auto maker Hyundai Motor India Ltd have already announced plans for the cricket World Cup. PepsiCo, for instance, will be rolling out a multimedia campaign for its snack brand Lay’s just ahead of the World Cup. “As the official snack partner of this World Cup, the brand gets the perfect opportunity to start the year through a scale marketing campaign,” said Vipul Prakash, vice-president, marketing, of PepsiCo India.
Hyundai, another official partner, plans to launch several initiatives, including trophy tours, across India, according to a statement released by the company. The auto maker is also running an online campaign called ‘Fans of Brilliance’. Meanwhile, in an attempt to woo Indian tourists during the World Cup, the tourism boards of both Australia and New Zealand have launched several campaigns and promotional activities. Tourism Australia has partnered with travel website Yatra.com to specially curate a portfolio of 30 travel packages.
“These itineraries will give tourists an opportunity to indulge in uniquely Aussie activities on the sidelines of the cricket matches,” said Nishant Kashikar, country manager, India and Gulf, Tourism Australia. According to feedback from accredited travel agents for the ICC World Cup, there has been significant interest in World Cup packages and over 6,000 cricket enthusiasts from India are expected to travel for the event. David Craig, general manager, Asia, Tourism New Zealand, said his organization is gearing up with a range of initiatives during the course of the World Cup and pointed out that his country and Australia have launched a new visa programme. Players, officials and fans will need to apply for only one visa to visit both countries during the tournament, he added.
With four months of back-to-back cricket entertainment, there’s also the fear that advertisers may choose between the two tournaments, although an ad executive said both could benefit. “It’s the same scenario like it was in 2011,” said Vinit Karnik, national director of GroupM ESP India, the sports marketing arm of the agency. “In fact, back then, when the World Cup was held in India, both tournaments did very well.” “Cricket season is one of the most exciting times for the industry in India. We plan to spend 15-20% of our total marketing budget for this year during IPL and World Cup,” said Manish Sharma, managing director of Panasonic India and South Asia.
Rohit Gupta, president, network sales, at Multi Screen Media Pvt. Ltd, the official telecast partner for IPL, said he isn’t worried about the World Cup taking away ad spends from IPL this year. “Over the years, IPL has proved itself a risk-free property,” he said. Even though Parliamentary elections happened in April and May 2014 (necessitating the shift of the first leg of IPL to the United Arab Emirates), TV ratings witnessed a growth of 7-8 %. “This year too, there is an assured rating of 4.5,” he said.
During the previous IPL season, ad inventory rates were around Rs.4.5-5 lakh for a 10 second spot. Presenting sponsors paid between Rs.50-60 crore for their association with IPL last year, while associate sponsors paid around Rs.35 crore. Gupta said he was looking at eight to 10 sponsorships this year, the same as the previous year, although he declined to comment on expected prices. Multi Screen Media said recently that it has increased the advertising rates for the coming edition of IPL by 10%. “Both the IPL and World Cup are very promising platforms for brands, providing quick visibility and high-reach,” said Hari Krishnan, managing director of media services agency ZenithOptimedia India.
Last year saw around 1,400 new advertisers come on board across TV channels, Krishnan pointed out. “There’s huge interest from e-commerce companies and even handset makers,” he said. While it may seem that a chunk of ad spends may shift from general entertainment channels towards these sporting properties, “many non-sport channels will also capitalize on this sentiment with related programming”, he said. Ashish Bhasin, chairman and chief executive, South Asia, for Dentsu Aegis Network, said both eyeballs and advertising for the World Cup will depend on how the defending champions, India, perform. “Else, the relative interest in the property will decline,” Bhasin noted.