Friday, April 8, 2011

IPL-4 set to start with a bang on high viewership

MUMBAI: The fourth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) is expected to be bigger, if not better, in terms of business even without Lalit Modi at the helm. It will be bigger largely on account of ticket sales and sponsorship deals clinched individually by the ten teams has been able to muscle in for itself. 

To top it all, television viewership-the big money spinner for the IPL-is expected to grow by 20% from 143 million that the tournament clocked last year. On the back of this figurencreased viewership , SET Max, the official broadcaster of the tournament, expects to rake in a plum Rs 1,000 crore in ad revenue, up from about Rs 700 crore it pocketed last year. 

The growth has been consistent over the last three editions of IPL. 

"We have seen this trend from the first edition of the tournament, when the viewership was about 90 million. The number has now jumped significantly. The trajectory is expected to continue this year too," said Rohit Gupta, president, Multi Screen Media, which owns SET Max. 

However, nothe tea may not be on a roll. While some of the bigger teams have been able to command a premium of about 20-25% compared to last year from sponsors, others have not had it that great. Things are not all rosy for these franchisees as they battle a format change, rebuilding teams and lack of time between the end of the high-pressure World Cup and the IPLstart of the Twenty20 tournament. 

"At the moment, we are not sure about how much better we will do this year in terms of business. But there has been a steady increase in all the revenue streams. But it will be a watershed year considering the kind of changes we have gone through," said Amrit Mathur, CEO, Delhi Daredevils, one of the few teams which has consistently made profits. Mathur said Delhi Daredevils has almost sold out tickets for its opening match against Mumbai Indians and expects the same for its other fixtures. Franchisees can earn anywhere between Rs 20-25 crore from ticket sales alone if it's a full house. 

Even on the commercial side, most contracts have been renegotiated or signed afresh for this year considering the sponsorship deals were for three years. "We have been able to add 17 sponsors this year and expect ticket sales also to grow substantially," said Raghu Iyer, CMO, Rajasthan Royals. But what is worrying the teams is that they cannot raise the entry prices for tickets as it will deter fans from making it to the stadium. 

Besides, the local revenue where the team sells sponsorship for player's uniforms and earns through ticket sales, franchisees also earn a share of the central pool. The central sponsorship is pegged at Rs 35-40 crore per brand annually. DLF, Vodafone, Citibank and Volkswagen are the official partners. 

Team owners said what has really taken a toll this year on most of the teams is the lack of brand building before the tournament, specially for the two new teams -Kochi Tuskers Kerala and Pune Warriors-since the World Cup ended just a week before the IPL was to start.

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