IPL TV ratings and ad revenues raise stakes ahead of rights auction
There was record viewership in the home country for the 10th edition of the Indian Premier League, the prestigious Twenty20 competition, which ended last month.
Figures released by the Broadcast Audience Research Council last week show that Indian broadcaster Sony Pictures Networks achieved 1.24 billion impressions for the 59 matches this year.
This represents an increase of 22 per cent on the 1.02 billion impressions for the 60 matches in 2016 (one match was rained off this year).
The figures will only serve to inflate the bids for IPL media rights for 2018 onwards, when the tender is launched next month.
However, the number of viewers for this year’s dramatic final on 21 May, in which the Mumbai Indians beat the Rising Pune Supergiants by one run, was actually down by 12 per cent on that for last year’s climax involving the Sunrisers Hyderabad and Royal Challengers Bangalore - 39.4 million impressions versus 44.7 million impressions.
It was still the most-watched game of the 2017 IPL, ahead of game two of the tournament, involving the same teams, on 6 April, which had 30.3 million impressions.
Impressions represent the number of individuals in thousands of a target audience who watch an event averaged across minutes.
The increase for IPL 10 is due in part to a recent update to the BARC measurement universe, reflecting changes in demographics, TV ownership and connection type. As result, the number of TV households in India now stands at 183 million, up from 154 million in 2013.
Nonetheless, Rohit Gupta, president, network sales at Sony, was impressed with the audience figures, telling Livemint: “This was one of the best seasons that we have had, both in terms of viewership and reach. IPL crossed the 400-million mark and reached 411 million viewers this season. The property has reached a mature stage. It has become a part of the sporting calendar.”
This year’s IPL was shown across five channels – Sony Max, Sony Six, Sony Six HD, Sony ESPN and Sony ESPN HD – and drew an average of 21.2 million impressions per match, with men accounting for 12.5 million and women 8.7 million, and urban residents accounting for 11.5 million and rural inhabitants 9.6 million.
The top region was Maharashtra/Goa, with an average of 4.5 million impressions per match.
Sony has held exclusive TV rights to the IPL in India since the launch of the competition in 2008 and the event has become a significant money-spinner, generating advertising revenues of Rs13 billion ($202 million).
Jigar Rambhia, national director, sports and entertainment partnerships, at Maxus India, a unit of the WPP-owned media buying agency GroupM, said: “IPL has been one property that consistently delivers over a period of two months. There is no other property that’s as good. It’s the best bet for advertisers.”
The invitation to tender for domestic and international rights to the IPL for five years starting in 2018 is set to be launched on 17 July.
Sony has held the TV rights to the IPL in India in a nine-year deal worth Rs82 billion that expired after the 2017 tournament, but it is expected to face significant competition from rival Star India, which has owned the digital rights for the last three years, in the forthcoming auction.
Star has the opportunity to demonstrate its credentials with its live coverage of the ICC Champions Trophy presently taking place in England and Wales.
Star, which is owned by media giant 21st Century Fox, is the global media partner of the International Cricket Council, and a worldwide audience of up to 1 billion was expected for the high-profile match between India and Pakistan in Birmingham on Saturday, which India won by 124 runs.
The eight-team tournament runs until 18 June.