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    Mumbai: Fans during the first T20 cricket match of the Indian Premier League 2022 (IPL season 15) between the Chennai Superkings and the Kolkata Knight Riders, at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.  (PTI photo)
Mumbai: Fans during the first T20 cricket match of the Indian Premier League 2022 (IPL season 15) between the Chennai Superkings and the Kolkata Knight Riders, at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. (PTI photo)

Many media behemoths waited a while for this announcement. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has finally announced the release of Invitation to Tender (ITT) for media rights for the Indian Premier League (IPL) seasons 2023-2027. Bidding for IPL media rights will begin on June 12 as an e-auction.

Unlike previous practice, there will be no category of consolidated rights in the current tender. Bids have been invited for four separate packages – digital, TV, rest of the world and a new non-exclusive bundle of 18 matches each season, based on advice from KPMG, bidding consultants. The idea, one is told, is to spread opportunities to various interested media companies and maximize revenue for the BCCI.

The value of IPL media rights nearly doubled in 2017 with Star paying Rs 16,347.5 crore for the global deal. On the other hand, Sony had previously paid Rs 8200 crore for TV rights for the Indian subcontinent. Sony held the rights for 10 years while Star acquired the rights for a period of 5 years.

Star TV, one can reasonably assume, will fight tooth and nail to retain its giant cash cow. In addition to accumulating revenue, the IPL gives every broadcaster the necessary power and muscle in the market to negotiate with major media outlets, such as large advertisers: a bit of a root-and-stick game is played in giving -and -take that happens all the time and everyone knows that the IPL rights holder can not be trifled with. Star TV would hate to lose this position of dominant dominance.

The newly merged Zee-Sony entity will certainly do anything to grab the rights – half partner Sony has had them for a decade and knows the benefits of IPL broadcasting well. Zee-Sony also has Rahul Johri in office as president. He’s the former CEO of BCCI – no one knows more about the ins and outs of cricket than he does. He is astute; has been a well-informed insider at BCCI and knows everything there is to know about the auction. Zee-Sony’s bids will be aggressive and they will definitely go for the kill.

The new darkhorse, Jio-Viacom, is really the competitor to look up to this time. They are joined by James Murdoch and Uday Shankar, former CEO of Star TV (who over the years have built Star Sports into such a powerhouse by winning every BCCI bid from ICC to India for IPL media rights ). Jio has the money, they have the will and they have cout.

The digital rights will be challenged just as well. Hotstar-Disney as the rights that will die to maintain its monopoly. All peaks of the Hotstar audience are related to cricket. No originals (except maybe Game of Thrones) have ever even come close to the cricket numbers for Hotstar. So, expect Disney to be aggressively bullish. Zee5 will hope Hotstar’s No. 1 position: hence there will be a strong bid from them. Jio has a 400 million+ mobile subscriber base. For them, IPL digital rights can be a goldmine.

Market sources expect that Meta (Facebook, WhatApp …), Google (especially YouTube), Amazon Prime, Netflix all bid for IPL, which is a magnet for millennials. My guess is that there could be a Jio + Facebook + Google consortium because the last two investors are in Jio and the trio bidding together could be unbeatable.

But all this is really only advice on market dynamics. The real thing is actually the impact on media rates.

The previous 5-year rights were Rs. 16, ooo + crore. This time, the base figure itself is Rs. 33,000 crore. effectively double.

This season (IPL 15) has the retail price of a place of 10 seconds between Rs. 15-18 lacs (some like Dream 11 are said to enjoy a rate as low as Rs. 10 lacs, but that is certainly not for smaller spenders). That, a place of 30 seconds is currently Rs. 50 lacs, give or take a few lacs. The math is simple – if the base rate for the tender is doubled, the advertising spot rate will have to double as well. But in reality, the winning bids may end up closer to Rs. 45,000 crore, or three times the current running rights. That, the 30-second will have to triple in price! Go to Rs. 1.5 crowns. Whoopee!

Okay, let’s temper that a little bit. Currently, the IPL has 15 60 games per season. But with two new teams now in the League, there will be 74 games or 25% more. That, our projected price of Rs. 1.5 crore will have to be discounted by 25% due to more matches and more available secondage and end up at say Rs. 1.12 crore – still substantially higher than Rs. 1 crown.

We in India were once surprised by advertising pottery at Super Bowl – at a million dollars per place. Next year IPL rates will also get closer to those stratospheric figures and maybe in the next 5-year tender also come within close range – who knows ?!

DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed are those of the author only and ETBrandEquity.com does not necessarily subscribe to them. ETBrandEquity.com is not responsible for any damage caused to any person / organization directly or indirectly.

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