The clouds over the fate of seventh edition of the Indian Premier League dissipated on Friday with the Supreme Court deciding not to impose a ban on two teams — Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals — that are under scanner for betting and spot fixing.
A relaxed Rohit Gupta, president of Multi Screen Media (MSM), which has bagged the broadcasting rights, told FE, “Now that we have clarity, things will move faster. Around 40% of our inventory has been confirmed till now. There was a lot of uncertainty in the last one week on the fate of the IPL. But with the SC’s ruling now, it is business as usual. We will announce our key sponsors in the next few days as we are still in the process of closing ad deals. Most of our deals had already culminated as far as negotiations go, but the ink wasn’t dry on the contracts.”
Gupta said consistent controversies did not impact ad rates and advertisers are betting high on the tournament, despite a constricted advertising market. “Ad inventory is still going at R4.75-5 lakh for 10 seconds, up 15% over the previous year,” he said.
“Viewership has also been up for the IPL matches. Last year, 215 million viewers came in for the IPL, up from 164 million. Viewer interest is not going down,” Gupta said.
Sam Balsara, chairman and managing director of one of the leading media buying agencies in India, Madison Media, said that it was a sensible decision by the Supreme Court. “The IPL is too huge a tournament to put in restrictions on team owners or players at the last minute. It also helps both the broadcaster and the advertiser that there is a mature and reasonable person such as Sunil Gavaskar at the helm. It is a good turn of events,” he said.
A top CSK executive said on condition of anonymity: “At no point did our work stop in preparation of the tournament. The commercials of the team have been managed very professionally. We are happy with the Supreme Court decision.”
Media buyers and planners, who were taken aback on Thursday with the SC’s proposal of dropping the CSK and RR, have resumed discussions on behalf of their clients. Gautam Kiyawat, CEO, Madison Media Group at Madison World, said: “Our clients are still deciding on their participation in IPL 7. The discussions are still going on. In fact, our clients are taking longer to decide as many matches are being played outside India.” At present, Madison Media’s major clients include Procter & Gamble, SpiceJet, Godrej, Piramal, Raymond, Asian Paints and Ceat, among others.
Karthik Sharma, managing director of Maxus India, said, “For our clients, we are in discussions with the channel (Sony) and are exploring advertising opportunities on the IPL platform this year. The deals are not yet signed as we are still in the discussion stage. First we will evaluate these media deals and then recommend it to our clients.”
PepsiCo India is the title sponsor for the seventh edition of IPL, while MSM channels Sony Max and Sony Six are exclusive broadcasters of the Pepsi IPL 2014. PepsiCo India got the title sponsorship of IPL last year with a reported bid of Rs 397 crore (to be paid over five years).
Last year, IPL’s major sponsors were PepsiCo, Vodafone, Tata Photon, Karbonn tablets, Samsung mobiles, the Godrej Group and Panasonic.
PespiCo’s arch rival Coca-Cola India is currently weighing participating in IPL 7. “Along with the excitement around the general elections, the deck has now been cleared by the Supreme Court for IPL 7. That provides advertisers like us an opportunity to consider IPL as a platform in our paid media mix. We are evaluating all options but we haven’t taken a decision yet,” said a spokesperson from Coca-Cola India spokesperson.
The Supreme Court on Friday handed over the reins of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to former cricketer Sunil Gavaskar during IPL 7 and did not bar Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals from participating in the tournament. A bench of justices AK Patnaik and FM Ibrahim Kalifulla, which had on Thursday proposed barring CSK and RR, refused to pass an order in this regard, allowing them to play along with six other teams in the tournament beginning on April 16 in Dubai.
With inputs from Anushree Chandran and Anindita Sarkar