Wednesday, March 19, 2008


MUMBAI: Even before a single ball has been bowled, the game has begun. By the look of things, it could end up becoming the humdinger of all matches. The ad rates for the soon-to-debut Indian Premier League (IPL) is equalling the rates prevalent for the World Cup.

Sony Max, the official broadcaster, has managed to close 75% of its advertising inventory at rates commensurate with the World Cup. A commitment of Rs 220 crore from sponsors has already come in with six sponsors booked for the series beginning April 18. Sony insiders told ET the broadcaster is looking at reaching the Rs 300 crore mark in ad revenues. Not bad, considering that both the World Cup and the Champions Trophy together garnered ad revenues of Rs 400 crore for Sony.

Vodafone has come on board as the presenting sponsor for Rs 32-35 crore and the second presenting sponsor should be sealed in the next two days. Four associate sponsors have also been closed at Rs 18-25 crore — Coca Cola, Max New York, Hyundai and Godrej, Sony insiders revealed. With a limited inventory available now, the spot buying rates for the remaining airtime is currently touching Rs 2.50 lakh for 10 seconds, as against Rs 1.3-1.5 lakh for 10 seconds paid by the sponsors.

Sony-Max, which was also the rights holder for the Champions Trophy and World Cup last year, sold inventory at similar rates but had clubbed both series together (51 for World Cup, 21 for Champions). So, while the rates are on a par with the World Cup rates, outlays for IPL are only for 59 matches across 44 days, making it far higher than the World Cup deal.

“Once the main sponsors are finalised, they will have around 400 seconds per match to offer. And since it coincides with the beginning of the summer season for, say, the beverage brands, Sony can command a good rate for the spots,” said OMD media director Harish Shriyan. Sony is offering the spots in tranches of 29 matches each to brands.

A CEO of a leading media buying agency said, “Brands like Vodafone and Hyundai have taken category blocks for the series, which means no other cell phone or car can come in as main sponsors.” The rate, according to him, is Rs 1.80-1.90 lakh per 10 seconds, which is higher than the rates during the World Cup. “While some have booked slots, there are others who are undecided and prefer to wait and watch for now,” he added.

Justifying the rates Sony Entertainment Television, India (SET) president Rohit Gupta said: “We have already sealed 1,500 seconds of the total 2,000 seconds available per day. The premium for the series is based on the fact that in an ODI you have 6,000 seconds at your disposal vis-à-vis 2,000 seconds in T-20 format.

So from an advertiser’s perspective, when he buys 200 seconds, he owns close to 10% of the inventory, as opposed to 3% in an ODI. ”

He added that the entire focus has shifted as the advertiser is willing to pay higher rates for sheer dominance and non-clutter. “In an ODI, there are always two to three competitors in the same category, whereas in this we allowed advertisers to purchase 50 seconds over and above the sponsorship rate to own the category. This has been a key driver in pulling sponsors for us.”

Media buyers opine that IPL will take some time to build into a profitable media property (in terms of investments & consumer interest), and the property will develop over 3-4 seasons (one season equals a year) as team affinity takes time to build.

Mr Lakhina believes that given the buzz around IPL, media plans and mix may change for brands. Considering that the event starts with the onset of summer season and new outlays for the year, companies may change their media plan with increased exposure to IPL by removing some money planned for other channels.
Source: Sonali Krishna & Rajiv Banerjee, TNN / The Economy Times/India Times

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