Winning the entire bouquet of digital rights for the IPL 2023-2027 cycle is the beginning of a new innings for Viacom18 as Experts see the brand surpassing the subscription and ad revenue benchmarks set by competitor Disney+Hotstar.
“In 2021 Disney+Hotstar clocked close to Rs 1050 to 1100 crore as revenue on the back of IPL, almost 50% came from subscriptions. While there is no clear understanding on whether Viacom18 will stream via just Voot or bundle it up with JioTV but this combination has the potential to unlock the immense potential of the Bharat market (Middle India and Rural India) and that is when subscriptions will start flowing in from not just metros but also Tier-II and Tier-III cities,” said Ramsai Panchapakesan, senior vice president and national head - Integrated Media Buying at Zenith.
According to Ramsai the fact that winning bids of TV and digital rights of IPL this season were so close tells a lot about the stage at which each of the mediums are.
While Viacom shelled out Rs 23,758 crore for Package B and Package C that club all digital rights together, 23,758, Star India bagged TV rights for the same cycle for Rs 23,575 crore.
“TV has reached its maturity in terms of inventory innovation as well as reach while digital has a lot of room for growth and innovation. Another interesting fact we are seeing is that the connected TV (CTV) base is growing at a quick pace and as of May, India has reached close to 95 million CTV viewers providing an opportunity to monetize by attracting more premium brands,” he said.
“With no pressure of incremental growth as in the case of Star that had both TV and OTT rights, digital will now completely be propelled with the new benchmarks and advertisers will come to Viacom18 for digital focus growth and sharp targeting,” he added.
While close to 28 to 31 percent of total viewership for IPL for Star came from digital, Viacom18 expected to take the number to new heights with new initiatives to push growth for their platform, experts.
Turns out, the entry price for digital ad inventory may go up by 1.8x but to counter that publisher may start breaking down their cohorts to keep entry costs affordable for both new and existing advertisers.
In terms of ad format, Disney + Hotstar offered inventories in display ads (billboard, native mage) and video ads (bumper, mid-rolls, carousel, leadgen). Viacom18 as per domain experts will bring in newer formats and at revised ad rates. While a mid-roll ad on digital costs anywhere between Rs180-Rs210 CPM per 10 seconds, in 2023 the prices (CPM) can touch Rs260 to 300 for the same duration.
The natural question that comes here is why would advertisers pay the premium for the upcoming season? The simple answer to that is - reach. The growing reach has always been the sales pitch for IPL inventory.
Interestingly according to media buyers, there is no history attached to pricing negotiations. “People refer to the previous year's pricing only for the sake of comparison and Star has always gone ahead with whatever price made sense for them and advertisers have negotiated but never complained because of the sheer reach of the league,” said an industry insider.
The other factor that would justify the premium pricing for advertisers would be the novelty factor of the platform.
“Disney + Hotstar has a very different audience profile when compared to Voot. So advertisers will gain a new set of audiences who are Voot loyalists. So there will be new subscribers to the existing set. This heterogeneous audience will have immense potential for targeting across categories,” said Gaurav Saini, founder at Chandigarh-based IPL specialised media agency, Big Media Kart.
Alongside being the launch pad for various new cricketers, IPL has also opened up monetisation options for a lot of digital players.
In 2011, Indiatimes, the then mobile and audio rights partner for IPL had announced its partnership with Google wherein all 74 matches of the league were streamed on its dedicated YouTube channel.
“Back in 2011 IPL helped YouTube launch their ad format in India and even with Disney+Hotstar the entire reach of the platform was propelled by IPL. Viacom18 picking it up this time will see similar trends because IPL as a property is growing year on year and is the largest canvas that the country has to garner viewership and reach,” Kavita Shenoy, founder and CEO at Voiro Bangalore-based ad-tech and SaaS start-up Voiro provides revenue analytics and workflow automation solutions to media and content-led companies like Voot and others.Shenoy, like other domain experts, expects Viacom18 to use IPL as a launch pad and elevate its game in terms of ad tech, reach, and access. According to her, the media giant may also come up with an altogether new platform to cash in on the potential that IPL has to offer.