Star earned ad revenues of around Rs 30 billion during last year's IPL.
Whether it hits last year's figure will depend on how the economy picks up during the festival season.
Surajeet Das Gupta reports.
Star & Disney India has decided not to reduce the premium that it charges on its advertising inventory for both TV and OTT platforms for the upcoming Indian Premier League, set to be held in the UAE from September 19, despite a slowdown in ad spends because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The reason: It has assured advertisers that the IPL won't face any trouble in garnering record viewership for the 60-odd matches as the sporting event is being played during the festive season, starting with Dussehra, which often accounts for maximum sales.
Besides, the Board of Control for Cricket in India has not given the broadcasting firm any concession on the Rs 3,270 crore (Rs 32.70 billion) annual charge for the broadcasting and digital rights of IPL.
The broadcaster, advertisers said, charges on average Rs 8 lakh to Rs 10 lakh (Rs 800,000 to Rs 1 million) for a 10-second slot, which is among the costliest for a programme in the country.
According to analysts, Star & Disney garnered advertising revenues of around Rs 3,000 crore (Rs 30 billion) last year.
Whether the firm hits last year's figure will depend on how the economy picks up during the festival season, said sources.
"Our viewership of IPL on TV, as well as OTT platform, has grown year-on-year, and that will continue even this year," Uday Shankar, president of Walt Disney Company APAC and chairman Star & Disney India, said.
"Also, for any company, which is looking at advertising, IPL provides the best and most-effective platform," he added.
Shankar also pointed out that the BCCI's decision to conduct IPL matches without fans in stadia presents a new creative challenge -- how to enhance the experience of viewers, even though their engagement with matches is high.
That is what the company's creative teams are now working on.
One of the key challenges, which IPL faces, is the safety of cricketers and others involved in the game, so that there is no hiccup in conducting matches.
In 2019, IPL had attracted over 424 million viewers, according to the data provided by BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council) which constitutes for as much as 51 per cent of the TV viewing population.
Additionally, 9 per cent watched it in restaurants, pubs, hotels and other places.
Besides, on its OTT platform, as many as 300 million subscribers tuned in to watch live IPL matches.
With 1 per cent of the consumers of cricket who see matches in stadia now shifting to TV or OTT, Star Disney can be a beneficiary.
However, advertisers said this year's IPL will face tough competition from other marquee programmes set to air in September, such as Kaun Banega Crorepati, Bigg Boss and Indian Idol, which charge spot prices of Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs 3 lakh (Rs 250,000 to Rs 300,000) for a 10-second spot and appear cost-effective.
The concerns about the impact of Chinese firms not being part of IPL appear exaggerated -- last year, based on the BARC data, only two of the top 10 advertisers during IPL were Chinese -- Vivo and Oppo.
Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com