Multi Screen Media (MSM), which has the rights to broadcast the Indian Premier League (IPL), has signed on six new associate sponsors as ad rates for the current edition are capped at Rs 3.75-4 lakh per 10 seconds, nearly 10-12 per cent lower than the asking price last year.
The new sponsors include Karbonn Tabs, Usha International, Godrej, Panasonic, Havells and Cadbury-Kraft, which will join Samsung Mobiles and Tata Docomo as associate sponsors of IPL 6, which gets underway on April 3. The presenting sponsors are Vodafone and PepsiCo.
Rohit Gupta, president (network sales, licensing and telephony), MSM, says, "By correcting ad rates, we have gained in terms of ad volumes, which is up 20-25 per cent this year. Not only are old clients such as Godrej and Samsung back as sponsors, we have also got new players such as Panasonic and Usha on board."
Godrej and Samsung, which were regular sponsors till 2011, chose not to be a part of IPL's sponsorship league last year, due to MSM's decision to keep sponsor rates at Rs 4.5 lakh for 10 seconds. As a result, MSM had just five sponsors including Vodafone, Pepsi, Hyundai, Idea and Tata Photon. Last year's title sponsor was DLF, which did not renew its five-year deal, citing high rates.
Keeping these developments in mind, MSM lowered its sponsor rates this year to attract advertisers, say media buyers. Gupta is hopeful of getting at least one more sponsor on board, although he refuses to divulge the name.
Spot buyers are expected to fork out over Rs 4 lakh this year as the rush to advertise on IPL grows. Last year, spot buyers were charged Rs 5 lakh for 10 seconds as the scramble to be visible on IPL reached a fever pitch. This year, Gupta says that almost 15 per cent of its overall inventory has been set aside for last-minute buyers. "We have already sold 70-75 per cent of our inventory and in the next two weeks, will close 85 per cent," says Gupta.
According to estimates, MSM is likely to garner ad revenues of nearly Rs 850 crore this season - up 29 per cent from last year's Rs 660 crore. Mona Jain, CEO, Vivaki Exchange, which is part of the Publicis Groupe, says, "MSM has already closed sponsorship deals of about Rs 542 crore this season. By our estimates, they have another Rs 300 crore to go. They have carefully priced their rates this year, which is helping them get sponsors early."
Around 100 advertisers make themselves visible on IPL every year either through spot buys or sponsorships. Media buyers estimate this number to be slightly better this year, at around 120, as advertisers see merit in associating with the property and with ad rates coming down.
Vijay Narayanan, vice-president (marketing) at Havells India, says, "The efficiency of this property is certainly good. And by bringing down ad rates, advertisers should be encouraged to come on board."
A Samsung spokesperson says, "We have a number of campaigns that are breaking around the time of the IPL. It made sense for us to come on board." While the average television viewer rating for the first six IPL matches last year fell sharply to 3.76, advertisers still maintain it is better than many other properties.
Suresh Kumar Bandi, divisional deputy managing director, Panasonic India, says, "People from all age-groups watch IPL in cities as well as small towns. From a reach point of view, it is still a great property to be associated with."
Harish Shriyan, chief operating officer of media agency OMD India, says, "A rating of 3.76 at an all-India level is not bad at all. You have to remember that IPL has been on for some time, so yes, there will be viewer fatigue. But I am amazed how people continue to follow these matches year-after-year. There is certainly viewership for IPL."
Nine teams will battle it out for the trophy this year, the finals of which will be played on May 26.