The bids for Indian Premier League (IPL)’s media rights for 2023-27 may not be affected despite a fall in viewership during the first eight matches of the 15th edition of the popular T20 league, said sports marketing experts. The bidding is scheduled for 12 June.
The cumulative reach of the first eight matches of IPL dipped 14% compared to the 2021 edition, according to the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), India. Cumulative reach is the number of people watching an event across a defined time period.
There is a 25% drop in billion minutes of consumption during the first week in 2022 compared to the year ago, said a person familiar with IPL viewership. “For fair comparison, this does not include the afternoon game,” he said. One of the first eight matches in 2022, was scheduled in the afternoon, while in the 14th edition there was no afternoon match.
“Fewer people watching IPL is the result of poor scheduling of matches. However, the 14% drop in the number of viewers will not impact monetization of IPL media rights for the next five years,” said a person closely linked with IPL.
“This is a scheduling issue. The opening match was between Kolkata Knight Riders and Chennai Super Kings (CSK). For television, teams such as CSK, Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), and Mumbai Indians (MI) have the maximum viewership,” he said.
“CSK is very popular down South, while RCB and MI are followed across Maharashtra and Gujarat. MI had two afternoon matches so far, which could have brought the ratings down,” said a sports marketing manager, seeking anonymity.
The BARC data is not a cause for worry and will not impact the bidding process, he said. The base price for the 2023-27 IPL media rights is ₹33,000 crore. “People are still thinking of outrageous numbers to bid, which could be as much as ₹75,000-85,000 crore,” the person said.
The addition of two franchises also did not help matters. “Lucknow Super Giants and Gujarat Titans do not have a following yet. The teams have played two games each. Viewers are still watching matches of their favourite teams. In one match both new teams faced each other, which could have impacted viewership numbers. Besides, in April last year, there was a lockdown and a lot more people were at home watching the tournament,” he said.
However, a section of industry insiders said IPL fatigue may be setting in considering that four IPL seasons were scheduled in just 18 months because of disruptions that have come about as a fallout of the coronavirus outbreak.
Falling viewership numbers may be a sign of the diminishing power of the brand, said Rediffusion managing director Sandeep Goyal. “There is no novelty and too much of sameness. IPL franchises have also not created a fandom for the teams. There is no distinct fan for Punjab or Gujarat and hence no ‘pull’ for the telecasts to watch ‘my’ team,” he said.
Emailed queries to Disney Star did not elicit any response till press time.
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