Encouraged by the the high viewership for the ongoing Indian Premier League cricket matches, official broadcaster Sony Set Max is expecting to sell its remaining inventory of 10-second advertisement spots for the semi-final and final matches for over Rs 10 lakh (Rs 1 million).
This would make it the most expensive rate for a spot in the tournament's three-year history.
"In 2009, the 10-second ad spots for the semi-finals and the final were sold at Rs 8,50,000. This year, considering the response that the tournament has received, we expect it to be substantially higher, and over Rs 10 lakh," said Rohit Gupta, president - network sales, Multi Screen Media, which owns SET Max.
The broadcaster has also raised rates of spots for ongoing matches in the tournament by over 33 per cent -- from Rs 4,50,000 (the rate at which it sold to bulk buyers) to Rs 600,000 for a 10-second slot.
"We had started with selling our inventory for Rs 4.5 lakh per 10 seconds but recently we had a couple of deals for Rs 600,000 for the spots," said Gupta.
SET Max, which has bought the rights for broadcasting the IPL matches for nine years, can sell a maximum of 2,600 seconds of advertisement time per match for the season.
Most broadcasters sell a large chunk of their advertising time through bulk deals. They, however, keep some inventory which they sell at a premium that depends on the viewership for the matches.
In IPL 3, the matches are being seen by over 20 million households, which is a 43 per cent increase over IPL 2, according to data from TAM Media which tracks audience viewership.
The spot rates being offered in IPL are much higher than the Rs 200,000-400,000 charged by broadcasters for one-dayers in which the Indian team played in international tournaments as well as key tournaments such as the Champions Trophy or the Champions League held last year.
Media buyers are however sceptical of the demand for Rs 10-lakh (Rs 1 million) spots. "The return on investment for the advertiser would be questionable if the spots are sold above Rs 10 lakh," said a senior executive of a media agency, who did not want to be quoted.
"Last year, the benchmark for the semis and finals was Rs 8.5 lakh per 10 seconds and this year it will be a function of demand and supply, and the demand at this point in time is high," said R Gowthaman, leader, Mindshare South Asia.
Advertisers are also being choosy about the spots they buy.
"Advertisers would prefer to buy spots in matches that get more number of eyeballs. Teams like Mumbai Indians, Kolkata Knight Riders have typically got higher TVRs and advertisers would look forward to book spots when either of these two players are playing," said Joseph Eapen, CEO, aMap.
Gupta said that inventory for all matches have been sold and very few spots for the semis and the finals are still to be sold. Vodafone and Videocon are the presenting sponsors for IPL 3.
In the first 27 matches of the tournament, they have shown ads for 5,311 seconds and 4,476 seconds, respectively. IPL has also tied up with eight associate sponsors this season which include Samsung, Pepsi, Hyundai, LG, Tata Photon, Airtel DTH, among others.