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TABLE OF CONTENTS 1. 2. Executive summary Challenges before Brand IPL a. Costs
b. Controversies c. e. Falling television rating points Too much cricket? d. Too expensive for advertisers?
Page 4 5
5 6 7 7 8
Opportunities a. A short memory
b. The advertising benefit c. Sports sponsorships work d. Integrated communications approach
10 10 11 12
Meanwhile, others are following suit
a commercial phenomenon. For brand analysts, the economics were a revelation. But, by Season 2, the controversies were mushrooming. The ratings dropped sooner than expected. Citing data collated by rating agency aMap, the Economic Times said Season 2 opened to 16.3% lower ratings compared to the inaugural one. aMap CEO Amit Verma told the newspaper: “Even though a larger number of viewers watched the first two matches, the curiosity did not sustain as much as last year.” More serious trouble was in store. The Enforcement Directorate began investigating allegations of ill-gotten money flowing into the tournament from tax havens abroad, and questioned the IPL top brass about it. In 2010, a bigger controversy followed. Lalit Modi, the IPL commissioner whose brainchild the tournament was, was sacked for money laundering and favouritism while awarding contracts, among other charges. Scams, corruption and conflicting interests soon became synonymous with IPL. The brand took a beating. In 2011, the IPL’s worth was pegged at $3.67 billion, down from a peak of $4.13 billion a year ago, reported the Economic Times, citing a study by Brand Finance, a UK firm specialising in brand valuations. There was one more controversy. Sahara, which has sponsored the Indian cricket team for several years and is the owner of IPL’s Pune team, ended its association with the sport after differences with the BCCI. While Sahara relented after talks with the BCCI, IPL’s problems had firmly overshadowed the cricket.
In 2008, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) launched the Indian Premier League (IPL) – a highoctane, theatrical extravaganza. The launch was partly a response to the Indian Cricket League, a Twenty20format private tournament launched by the Zee Group without the BCCI’s blessings, and partly an attempt to reinforce India’s dominance in world cricket. The IPL, a mega success from the word go, was an inflection point in cricketing history. As India sat glued to the lusty hitting, quick-fire games and glamour, the cricketing firmament understood that the game had changed forever. Commercialisation and a marriage with entertainment would now be inseparable from the onceserene game. Based loosely on the English Premier League and the National Basketball Association (NBA), the IPL lured advertisers, broadcasters, brands and even film stars, who bought teams or turned franchise ambassadors.
Analysts feel that advertisers will now ask themselves tough questions.
Maruti Suzuki India chief general manager (marketing) Shashank Srivastava told PTI: “There is too much of cricket and viewership is falling. With the Indian team not doing well, there is viewer fatigue. Moreover, the IPL is an expensive proposition; advertisers will realise that their return on investment is not as high as expected.” Zenith Optimedia managing partner Navin Khemka confirmed to PTI: “Advertiser interest is lukewarm compared to earlier seasons when ad inventory would get sold out six months in advance.” There’s no denying that Brand IPL is on choppy waters. It will have to steer clear of fresh controversies, reflect on mistakes and rectify the damage as much as it can. Most importantly, it needs to win back the confidence of stakeholders. As Season 5 unfolds from April 4, 2012, the BCCI will need a stronger game plan to rejuvenate the brand.
Brand IPL had hit the jackpot.
Many cricketers, who would have otherwise remained unheard of, became stars overnight, lapping up the media glare and the big bucks. Even detractors, who believed that the T20 format would destroy the game, had to acknowledge that the tournament was
Challenges before the brand
of money flowing in from questionable sources. “The IPL juggernaut has hit a speed-breaker,” M Unni Krishnan, India MD of Brand Finance, told the Economic Times. “Its sustainability will depend on governance policies...”
Runaway costs are the most visible of IPL’s problems. Team costs – players’ salaries and auction bids – hit 40%-45% of revenues in 2010. In 2009, team costs were 30%-33% of revenues. The cost pressure is only expected to rise, further affecting the IPL valuation. In the first auction in 2008, there was a cap of $5 million per franchisee on player bids. Today, it is $9 million. Hence, franchisees have more money to spend on the stars. Yuvraj Singh, for instance, was ‘bought’ for $1.1 million in 2008, but cost Sahara’s Pune franchise $1.8 million in the 2011 auction. The player costs are comparable to the highest in the world. In the NBA – an older, more established league – the average annual salary is $2.62 million. In the IPL, it is just under $2.5 million. The NBA leads sports properties across the world in wages, with the IPL coming in second.
Photo by Royal Challengers Banglore on facebook
By April 2011, as the BCCI scrambled to oust Modi and deal with allegations of money-laundering, favouritism and betting, it was clear that the IPL honeymoon was over. A year later, the pressure on the brand is just as intense. This will be on the minds of sponsors and advertisers. Last year, several multinationals signed on as associates. While German car maker Volkswagen came aboard as a partner, Pepsi inked a five-year $12.5 million deal to be the league’s official beverage. Coca-Cola is a major advertiser. While all of them signed on because of the IPL’s reach, popularity and the consumer loyalty that such a vehicle can deliver, any damage to Brand IPL would affect the way their marketing messages impact their consumers. While few of them have openly voiced their concerns, they will certainly watch viewer response and return on investments closely. The latest Brand Finance study showed an 11%, or $460 million, drop in the value of the IPL last year. The study pegged it at $3.67 billion – down from $4.13 billion in 2010, when its value doubled from the previous year. The problems before the brand are myriad – from question marks over ownership patterns to allegations
Photo by IPL on facebook
Keeping the wage bill in check and managing revenues will mean the difference between survival and falling by the wayside. Amrit Mathur, CEO of Delhi Daredevils, told the Economic Times: “We’ll have to redo our financial structure by looking at ways to cut other costs and beefing up our revenue generation options to accommodate rising player costs.”
The silver lining is that aggregate brand value of franchisees rose from $333 million in 2010 to $355 million in 2011. The IPL’s value is calculated on the basis of the franchisees’. So, unless sponsors and advertisers flee in large numbers, Brand IPL should stabilise at some stage. BCCI president N Srinivasan doesn’t seem unduly worried. He is on record that fluctuating valuations – based at least partly on perception rather than reality – don’t matter. “It’s not a manufactured product and we are not a company chasing EBITDA,” he reportedly said.
India sponsorship as well as the IPL was a major blow too. Brand experts believe that advertisers will start questioning whether the sky-high IPL rates are worth it and whether a ‘tainted’ brand should be associated with. Some advertisers said that they might begin looking for alternatives if viewership drops and returns on investment fall short of expectations. Melroy D’Souza, COO of the Sunil Gavaskar-promoted sports marketing firm Professional Management Group, said controversies impact a brand’s global appeal. “Many advertisers associated with the IPL because of its international appeal. Controversies such as these can have a serious impact on that [interest],” he said. “Suddenly, from being a much-hyped brand, IPL has become a brand about which advertisers, team owners and broadcasters need to ask tough questions,” Future Brands managing director and CEO Santosh Desai told PTI. He warned that the 2012 season was critical – if it does not do well, IPL could be in for big trouble. Desai blamed IPL’s ‘engineering’, apart from India’s poor performance in recent times. Maruti’s Srivastava said that advertisers will realise that IPL is not worth it. “Advertisers will shift to other genres, such as general entertainment or news,” he felt. Srivastava said that though controversies often help raise viewership, the Sahara standoff would not produce that result. “The Modi controversy did not lead to higher ratings,” he pointed out.
IPL’s value, according to a Brand Finance study. The value dropped 11%, or $460 million, from $4.13 billion in 2010
Aggregate brand value of franchisees in 2011, up from $333 million in 2010
Average player salary. It is second only to the NBA’s – $2.62 million – among sports properties
No brand, however strong, can take corruption charges lightly. Be it the storm over Modi’s sacking or the termination of the Kochi franchise, Brand IPL has faced setback after setback. Sahara’s pullout from the Team
Photo by Lalit Modi IPLFanclub on facebook
Sure enough, Zenith Optimedia’s Khemka said advertiser interest is “lukewarm” this year, and PTI said other media planners echoed this sentiment. However, Khemka did not believe that the Sahara row would affect the brand in the long term. “There are too many takers for IPL...,” he said.
NUMBER OF VIEWERS ( In millions)
200 150 100 50 0
122 142 160
In 2011, Multi-Screen Media (MSM), IPL’s broadcaster, quoted $30,000 per 10-second ad spot for the last four matches. However, media buyers said privately that it settled for $11,000 per spot, the same rate as that of group matches. While MSM denied the reports, claiming that it would earn $180 million from IPL 4 (2011), what is indisputable is that viewership fell. Television rating points (TRPs) issued by TAM Sports, a unit of TAM Media Research, for the first 59 matches in IPL 4 showed that ratings hit a new low of 3.84 against IPL 3’s 6.36, IPL 2’s 4.66 and the inaugural season’s 5.39 at the same stage. A senior media buying official, who requested anonymity, told the media that “lack of advertiser interest due to a dip in viewership” meant that the spots did not command a premium in 2011, unlike previous seasons where rates had shot up by 150%-200%. He added that, with ad inventory left over, MSM was forced to discount rates. MSM denied that viewership was falling. Gupta said that 142 million people watched IPL in 2010 and that the number had crossed 146.5 million by the time the tournament entered the semi-final phase.
4 3 2 1 0
Source: TAM Sports, a division of TAM Media Research
Too expensive for advertisers?
MSM, which broadcasts the IPL on its channel SET Max, has hiked ad rates by 10% for the 2012 season. This means that advertisers must pay more than $10,000 for a 10-second spot. Last year, after India won the World Cup, MSM hiked rates by 25%, but the viewership was the lowest ever. With India’s whitewash in England and in Australia – the team lost eight consecutive Test matches abroad – IPL 5 might pose a challenge. While MSM has roped in Pepsi, Vodafone, Tata Photon and Idea as sponsors, some advertisers are worried about low returns on investment. LG Electronics India and Godrej, which were sponsors from the inaugural season, have pulled out this year, reported MxMIndia, a media website. LG Electronics India’s chief marketing officer LK Gupta told MxMIndia: “While IPL is the single largest property on TV... there is only a certain level to commit marketing funds and the return we get in terms of TRPs does not
Photo by TheChennaiSuperkings on facebook
justify the high level of spending...” Maruti Suzuki, which spends about 23% of its marketing budget on sports every year, has always kept away from IPL. “In terms of viewership, [IPL] gives you good returns for five to six weeks, which is ideal for launches or new products,” said Srivastava, explaining that the return on money spent is not much for a brand like Maruti. As MxMIndia pointed out, with presenting rights set at $13 million and associate sponsorship at $9 million, MSM is under pressure to cut ad rates. Nitin Jain, cofounder of DoMor Communications, said MSM would eventually have to come down to last year’s price – $9,000 to $9,500 per 10-second spot. BCCI DEALS IN TROUBLE
In England and Australia, India lost eight consecutive Tests. This seems to have turned off viewers. And this is what makes the 2012 season of IPL critical. The Twenty20 extravaganza is what makes the BCCI coffers overflow, which in turn allows it to call the shots on the international stage. If viewer fatigue takes a toll on ratings, advertising revenue will fall. One effect of viewer fatigue was obvious last year. The duration of the tournament was increased in order to make more money, but it backfired when the league matches found fewer takers. Too much cricket may be why Nimbus, which inked a broadcast deal in 2009 with BCCI for $431 million for all international matches in India, couldn’t pay the $6.4 million per match. The BCCI’s greed hasn’t helped. After the IPL, it launched the Champions League T20, claiming that it wanted to take the format across the world. Soon, most viewers couldn’t tell one match from the other. Hardly surprising then that Bharti Airtel pulled out as
Broadcasting deal with Nimbus for India matches that was cancelled
What Sahara was paying per match as Team India sponsor. It backed out after differences with the BCCI, but returned after talks
What Rendezvous paid for the Kochi franchise. The contract was terminated in 2011
Reduced sponsorship fee for 2012 IPL season to be paid by official mobile partner, Karbonn Mobiles. This fee is down from $7.2 million in 2011
Amount Maxx Moblink, an IPL partner, wants written off because it can’t pay up. It is currently fighting a legal battle with the BCCI over this Source: Media reports
Too much cricket?
Since IPL 4 in 2011, cricket has flooded the airwaves with India playing virtually non-stop. And it’s been faring badly. IPL 4 was followed by a disastrous tour of England, and the West Indies tour last year was cold-shouldered by viewers. While India got the better of England on the return tour, it was quickly followed by a nightmarish series in Australia.
Photo by Royal Challengers Banglore on facebook
the official sponsor of the Champions League after a year, complaining that sponsorship rights, at $13 million, were too high. For IPL 5 this year, many advertisers have demanded a minimum viewership guarantee. “There is definitely a concern about cricket ratings, whether it is ODIs, Test matches or T20,” Ajit Varghese, MD at media buying agencies Maxis and Motivator, was quoted as saying.
League T20 for 10 years. It may be worth less than half
What Sahara paid for the Pune Warriors team. It admitted that it overpaid by 30%
National TV rights per match, to be paid by broadcaster Source: Media reports
What ESPN Star Sports paid for Champions
it. Brand-Finance projected that if the eight original franchisees grow at an average of 23%, their collective revenues would be $6 billion by 2018, and the profits would hit $160 million. It is this that would help the IPL ride out every trough. Profitable enterprises have not only the resources, but the momentum to survive every crisis.
The advertising benefit
Walk into a stadium during an IPL match or watch it on TV, and you’ll see ads everywhere. Every conceivable property – from billboards to the stumps – has been monetised. Call it overkill or innovation, advertisers know that IPL delivers eyeballs. No wonder then that at least 84 brands advertised aggressively on IPL 3. The number would have only grown since then. Also, brand experts point out, the audience is virtually captive – when Indians watch cricket, they rarely surf channels. From launches to building brand awareness, the IPL has been the vehicle of choice for advertisers over the last four years. Everybody’s found value in it, be it little-known phone manufacturers such as Micromax or established telecom service providers like Vodafone. Many brands have developed campaigns especially for IPL – such as Idea (Ungli Cricket) and Pepsi (The Game).
Photo by IPL on facebook
There must be something right with a sports property that, despite a fall in valuation, is worth more than $3.5 billion. By its second year, the IPL was thought to be the fifth largest sports brand, just smaller than FIFA and bigger than Wimbledon and F1. Even after the recent setbacks, the valuation of the US’ National Football League (NFL) – $4.5 billion – is within reach.
A short memory
Let’s face it; the Indian cricket fan doesn’t dwell too long on bad times. A series win, or a Sachin Tendulkar century, and the disasters of the past are forgotten. That’s exactly what happened last year when, rocked by scandal, the IPL was passing through its worst phase. Even then, real estate giant DLF, which had bought the title rights for five years for $40 million, was unfazed. While the controversies may have hurt, said a spokesperson, the World Cup victory ensured that the sheen didn’t wear off. Rajesh Jain, head of media and entertainment at KPMG, also felt that the negativity would wear off for the same reasons. The setbacks are balanced by the inherent value – as distinct from the valuation – of the IPL. The BCCI is expected to make a profit of $260 million by 2018 from
Photo by Royal Challengers Banglore on facebook
This year, media planners say, the format has defied the slowdown in the advertising industry. “Big and musthave properties like IPL are never impacted by shortterm slowdowns as these are long-term commitments from advertisers and are integral to brand strategies,” said Man Jit Singh, CEO chief executive officer, MSM, that has IPL broadcast rights for a decade. That apart, the tournament has delivered women viewers in large numbers to stadia as well as on television. “IPL scores on two counts – the three-hour format and prime time slot on television of 8 pm-11 pm – both of which are huge draws,” Punitha Arumugam, CEO of Madison Media Group, was quoted as saying.
Sports sponsorships work
A study by marketing professor Kirk Wakefield and marketing consultant Anne Rivers assessed the effectiveness of being an official league sponsor, in terms of brand enhancement among fans of a sport. Their study was based on the National Football League (NFL), which has the broadest fan base in the US. The industries they considered— banking, credit cards, beer, restaurants, etc—were among the biggest sponsors between 2008 and 2010.
book Thinking, Fast and Slow, how the brain uses nonconscious shortcuts in everyday decisions. One such shortcut, termed ‘substitution’, explains the positive effects of brand sponsorship. When we’re faced with questions whose answers are not easy, our nonconscious brain substitutes easier-to-answer questions in their place. Our response to official sponsorships likely involves substitution. When deciding what products to buy—this involves complicated questions of taste, practicality and value—we often consciously substitute other questions. For example, ‘What do my friends prefer?’ Or, ‘What will make me look cooler?’ A powerful advertising-related substitution involves ‘virtue by association’. When faced with a stranger, for example, we often decide whether to trust him/her based on who he/she hangs out with or works alongside. We often evaluate brands in a similar manner. Hence, a sport or programme the brand associates with becomes its evaluation criterion. Since Indians are so passionate about cricket, it follows that an association with it will evoke a similar attachment. The deeper the association with a beloved sport, the stronger the emotion a fan feels for the brand.
Their conclusion: Sports sponsorship is worth it.
The study, which polled 16,000 consumers representative of a national audience, showed that fans who are emotionally invested in a sport will pay more attention to, have greater recall about, and have a more positive association with an official sponsor than nonfans will. There is no sport Indians are more passionate about than cricket. It follows that brands that associate with it will reap the benefits listed above. Brands that stick with IPL would also have the advantage of a long-standing positive association once the negativity surrounding it wears off. Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman discussed in his
Photo by zoonabar on flickr
Integrated communications approach
There is an opportunity to go a step further. While advertising and sports sponsorships work, all too often they are one-way conversations. If you wish to foster strong brand loyalty and maximise return on investment, consumer engagement is the key. A holistic communications approach – which includes advertising, sponsorships, public relations and social media working in sync – will always work better. Because of the growing importance of trusted endorsers, as well as changing media habits – large sections of consumers now spend great amounts of time online – social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, can play the leading role in engaging consumers. The record of teams on this front is spotty. While teams such as Kolkata Knight Riders and Royal Challengers Bangalore have made concerted efforts to engage consumers through regularly updated Twitter feeds and Facebook pages, many teams have fallen short. The Royal Challengers showed how brands can successfully use social engagement. It ran a talent hunt to select three fans for an online reality show in which they had full access to the players. The objective was to build a highly engaged community with regular content created by players, experts and fans. Consequently, the Royal Challengers community landed more than 500,000 fans across channels. There are a few things advertisers, sponsors and teams can keep in mind:
• Variations of the Royal Challengers model can be applied to campaigns for a variety of goods and services associated with IPL, from fast moving consumer goods to global events. • Become part of the community of your consumers, join the conversation to learn more about their needs. • Use the tools that consumers are using, be it Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs, podcasting, QR code technology or something else. • A study of social media usage by market research firm Chadwick Martin Bailey and iModerate Research Technologies found that consumers who are Facebook fans and Twitter followers of a brand are more likely to not only recommend, but also buy from those brands than they were before becoming fans/followers. This is a great opportunity for social media marketers. • Social media can be a great market research tool. Carefully tracking what users are saying can help you hone marketing messages, which in turn will prompt users to pass on those messages to others. • It helps if one of the stars on your teams tweets. For instance Yuvraj Singh – formerly with the Kings XI Punjab team and now with Pune Warriors – is popular on Twitter, with more than 1.2 million followers. His tweets during the IPL are followed keenly. • Focus on increasing two-way engagement, garnering consumer participation beyond the monetary level by creating opportunities for them to spend time with your brand or product.
Photo by Delhi Daredevils on facebook
Meanwhile, others are following suit
Experts suggest that it was IPL’s popularity that catalysed league models in other sports. The idea is to take the IPL model and customise it in a manner that benefits the sport as well as investors. It’s win-win for everyone involved. The WHS will give 200 national and international players an opportunity to participate in 59 matches. A release by the organisers said: “The champion team stands to win almost 30 times more prize money as compared to the Euro Hockey League, the leading domestic hockey league in Europe.” In all, the organisers will give away $2 million as prize money. Premier League Soccer, modelled on the IPL, signed on World Cup winner Fabio Cannavaro and French international Robert Pires. The six-team league was due to kick off in February, but was postponed to mid-April after organisers struggled to secure stadiums. The player auction on January 30, 2012, saw franchises spend nearly $7 million. They calculated that global football sponsors – from sportswear manufacturers to beverages – would be keen to tap the emerging Indian market. While the league has run into logistical problems, the marketing logic remains unchanged. Kolkata-based Leisure Sport Management, meanwhile, is launching the Indian Wrestling League. Wrestling is one of the few disciplines in which India is expected to win medals at the 2012 London Olympics; a professional body partnering with the Wrestling Federation of India and pumping money into a grassroots sport is a step in the right direction.
Photo by Rohit Markande on flickr
When the Indian hockey team took a victory lap after qualifying for the London Olympics, it was a gesture to thank fans just for being there. After all, it’s not often that you see a near-capacity crowd at a hockey match. Interest levels are so low that during the 2010 hockey world cup, sponsors Hero Honda used a cricketer – Virender Sehwag – to attract fans! However, now there is an IPL-style hockey league in India and more are planned for other sports. These are early days, but sponsors are looking at options beyond cricket. For some, cricket can never deliver the value that a less popular sport can. Title sponsors of the ongoing World Series Hockey (WSH) are shelling out a mere $400,000 annually for a three-year deal. Compare that to $8 million that DLF pays to be IPL’s title sponsor every year. Vaibhav Sara, GM (sales and marketing), Bridgestone India, told the Economic Times: “Even if our return on investment from WSH is [$2 million] worth of media mileage, we are happy.” Bridgestone has a strong market in South India and its association with the Mumbai Indians IPL team strengthens that network. The WSH sponsorship, it hopes, will help it break into North India, where hockey is relatively popular.
Photo by priyank aagrawal on flickr
Actor Sanjay Dutt has partnered with entrepreneur Raj Kundra, who part owns the Rajasthan Royals IPL team, to launch the Super Fight League in which fighters will square off in mixed martial arts bouts. Kundra told the media: “India is virgin territory as far as professional fighting is concerned. Launching a sport here without a bat and a ball is like launching a Bollywood film without song and dance. But what we offer is ‘sportainment’...” Skeptics warn that the trend may fizzle out. India has been loyal to cricket for far too long and grabbing eyeballs will be a massive challenge.
A Tehelka report quotes Jitender Joshi, CEO of SportzConsult, a sports consulting company: “There is a huge opportunity in India to create niche leagues, but the fan base for the sport must be identified and the marketing should be focused on that segment. To build affinity, the league will have to create stars out of the players, and give the audience someone they can hero worship, a Sachin Tendulkar from the boxing world.” The biggest winners are sports fans who can now truly, change the game.
IN A DIFFERENT LEAGUE Tournament World Series Hockey Sport Hockey Launch 2012 Promoter Nimbus Sports, Indian Hockey Federation Leisure Sports Management, supported by Indian Wrestling Federation Percept India, Indian Boxing Federation Teams 8
Indian Wrestling League Indian Boxing League Premier League Soccer West Bengal Indian Basketball League I-League i1 Super Car Series Premier League Soccer
Wrestling Boxing Soccer
2013 2013 2012
Celebrity Management Group, Indian Football 6 Association IMG, Indian Basketball Federation All India Football Federation Machdar Motorsports Celebrity Management Group TBA 14 9 6 Source: Media reports
Basketball Soccer Car racing Football
2013 2008 2013 2012
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