There is no denying that both the Indian Premier League (IPL) and the ICC World Cup are two important properties from an advertising standpoint. And, this year is witnessing both, which only means that ad spend for sports will once again be on the higher end.
Talking to Moneycontrol, MK Machaiah, President Content+, Mindshare, South Asia, said, ““Sports advertising in India has been on an uptrend for the last 10 years. Of course, the IPL has been a major driver. But, sports bodies’ promotion of non-cricket tournaments has also helped."
"2019 is a special year primarily because it is the year where the IPL and World Cup have come together, just like what happened in 2011. The IPL and the World Cup will drive growth in sports advertising. The cost of investment in both these properties are significant. The advertising spend of large brands will be skewed towards these two events,” he added.
According to a report by ESP Properties (a GroupM company) and SportzPower, sports related advertising and sponsorship crossed USD 1 billion mark in 2017 in India. The segment saw a 14 percent increase from 2016.
Sports advertising which includes media spends, on-ground sponsorships team sponsorships and individual sportspersons’ endorsements has been growing, and the major credit for it goes to cricket.
Another report by Group M says that sports sponsorship in 2018 grew 12 percent to touch Rs 7,762 crore.
World Cup is reportedly attracting investments on the advertising front to the tune of Rs 1,200 crore across television, digital, print and radio.
Explaining the cost that brands pay for visibility during the World Cup, Machaiah said, “The cost for an India match is Rs 20 lakh onwards for 10 seconds. Over Rs 10 lakh is for all match packages. The sponsorship package is Rs 40 crore onwards on television and digital sponsorship is over Rs 15 crore."
Just like the IPL, brands are now paying attention to the digital medium, thanks to Hotstar. The streaming platform has announced Dream 11, Uber Eats, Amazon Pay and Coca Cola as the co-presenting sponsors this year while the associate sponsors include Royal Challenge, Acko, CEAT, and ICICI Lombard.
In fact, experts say that, of the overall sports advertising this year, the digital medium could contribute around 20-25 percent.
“If you look at the trend around, Hotstar is the one driving its viewership to the max. I think Star has been strategic. If you look at the Star story in the last 10 years when IPL television rights was with Sony, Star made an investment in the digital medium. They were streaming IPL online when Sony was streaming it on TV. Then, they took the high ground from there,” said Machaiah.
“They (Star) have today 70 percent of cricket with them. Star has invested well ahead of the time. Sporting events are giving them that spike that is required for the platform, and the infrastructure for streaming is one of the preferred ones by the consumer,” he added.
To go wider and deeper across India, the tournament will be streamed in six regional languages on the digital platform.
Ask brands what makes the World Cup an important opportunity for them, and the first thing that comes up is the global audience of over one and a half billion people the sporting event attracts.
In fact, for Uber, India is leading the network. “The ICC World Cup spans in eight countries. The India team is creating the toolkit. Then, countries are adapting, and we are doing a unified campaign for eats and rides both. There is an effort to bring the two brands together on one platform, said Manisha Gupta, Head – Marketing, India and South Asia.
In addition, Uber which is the official sponsors of the World Cup has also officially launched the World Cup anthem which features five international artists. The makers include Sanam, a popular Indian band, alongside other globally-acclaimed artists such as Jahmiel (Jamaica), Catherine Taylor Dawson (United Kingdom), Simba Diallo (New Zealand) and Choir group - Khayelitsha United Mambazo (South Africa).
Uber’s World Cup campaign revolves around the idea that, this World Cup, it is the fans who will win. “And the fans can be drivers, riders and eaters. We are targeting our supply, as well as demand. The more often you order on UberEats, the higher your chance is to win a ticket to the World Cup, added Gupta.
Just like Uber, every company is trying to make the most of the cricketing event. But, will this lead to ad clutter? According to Machaiah, cricket is the least-cluttered content in the country.
“There are almost 650-700 seconds of advertising per hour on entertainment channels. For Cricket, there is 700 seconds of advertising per hour. But, these come on an average of 12-14 breaks, where each break consists of 50 seconds. If you look at general entertainment, there are four breaks, each of 2-3 minutes. So, I think the clutter is the least in cricket,” he explained.
Probably, that is why brands are not thinking twice in rushing into advertising during the World Cup. Take the example of Gulf Oil which has roped in their brand ambassadors – MS Dhoni and Hardik Pandya for team India.
Ad clutter may not be a challenge for brands during the tournament, but there are a few others.
“The challenges would be from an investment standpoint. The challenge for brands would be to take the investment to the same level across all big events in the sub-continent. So, a brand which has taken the high ground in the IPL may not do the same in the World Cup. But, the competing brand will take the high ground in the World Cup. The good thing about India is that there are so many brands, and they have deep pockets,” said Machaiah.He added that, while the cost of entering these events are high, “if you look at the best running television shows, the kind of reach they generate 200-250 million viewers in two months. In the same time period, the World Cup can generate more than 500 million viewers on television. And, you are looking at 300 odd million on the streaming side.”