The stage is set for the first edition of Women’s Premier League (WPL) to kick in. Though the official dates of the tournament is yet to be announced, the league, which is expected to be held in March ahead of men’s IPL, is already garnering interest from advertising and marketing fraternity.
On 25 January, the BCCI auctioned teams for the Women’s Premier League for a combined sum of Rs 4,670 crore. This came on the back of a five-year Rs 951-crore broadcast rights deal with Viacom 18. This is a watershed moment for women’s cricket which didn’t garner much interest at least a decade back.
Adani Group led the bid process offering Rs 1,289 crores and has been declared winners for Ahmedabad, followed by Mumbai Indians, who will own Mumbai for an bidding amount of Rs 912.99 crores for a 10-year license. The other three winners are Capri Global for Rs 757 crore, JSW Group for Rs 810 crore and RCB (Rs901 crore) for Bangalore. Capri Global will own Lucknow and JSW Group bagged Delhi.
Storyboard18 reached out to industry executives about viewership and advertiser interest that women’s premier league may garner.
“I think WPL definitely has a lot of potential because the kind of valuations that the team franchisees have got and what Viacom18 has paid for media rights, it's similar to everything that happened when the men's IPL started in terms of value, potential and excitement. Having said that, I think proof will be in the pudding and what the actual product is,” says a senior sports management executive on the condition of anonymity.
From everything we've seen about women's cricket in the last couple of years, in terms of the quality of cricket and the viewership that women’s T20 World Cup has garnered, WPL is unlikely to fail.
“Sports is gender agnostic and IPL added 75 million news users to the CTV universe in 2022. So irrespective of the platform IPL still delivers for the brands that work with them with a threshold level of investment. While advertisers are mindful of players ranking, the targeting is always centered at consumers,” says Ramsai Panchapakesan, senior vice president and national head - Integrated Media Buying at Zenith.
According to him, the 2020 edition of the Women’s T20 Challenge had 5.34 billion minutes in viewership in India and IPL as a league has a 15 seasons of legacy to carry with its franchises, there is no question of infancy in IPL formats even if they start getting televised on a new channel or digital platform.
IPL is one of the world’s largest entertainment formats and WPL is an extension of the same. Since 2008 IPL men’s event has gradually gained fame and viewership and now it has reached a scale that it requires decent investment to associate as far entry cost is concerned. Any aspiring brands would want to ride and associate with IPL. WPL comes at lesser entry outlay compared to IPL.
“The last edition of men’s IPL was viewed by more than 190+ million women in the country both OTT and broadcast put together so there is no reason to believe there will be any dearth of viewers for the women’s edition,” Panchapakesan adds.
Great opportunity for small advertisers
As per experts, the advantage of being a part of WPL for brands is that it has a less challenging entry barrier and can enable instant reach across markets in a very short span of time, especially for brands and startups that are less than 12 months old in the market.
“Many brands can't afford to be on the IPL where a 10-second rate is probably Rs15 to Rs 20 lakhs. A brand that doesn't have deep pockets but still wants to pitch on the IPL wire bandwagon then WPL is a good place to start because less than half the cost will give you some sort of a rub off on the IPL brand. Brands looking at a new target audience such as women/children/families will also find a great opportunity to take a leadership position in women's sport,” notes sports marketing executive quoted earlier.
Sources close to the developments say IPL ad rates for Hotstar have been around Rs 199-277 per CPM (cost per mille/thousand impressions) for 10-second ads and Viacom18 is expected to keep the range between Rs100 and Rs250 CPM with premium being added to special matches like semifinals and finals.
Given this is the platform’s debut year with IPL, any uptick in price has not been discussed as of now. However, next season onwards there will be significant price hikes.
An executive at a D2C company that operates in the women wellness category told Storyboard18 on the condition of anonymity that they are keen on advertising on WPL and are closely following the development of the tournament.
"Since, we operate in the women's wellness category, WPL would be the right for us. We are interested in the property and closely following its development," the company executive shares.
To give context, men's IPL, which is a decade old property, has garnered high advertiser interest over the years. As per TAM, indexed ad volume per match witnessed 11 percent growth in IPL 15 as compared to its previous season. However, WPL will have to establish itself year after year to match up to IPL's success.
Sandeep Goyal, managing director, Rediffusion India, says, “It is still early days but I’m sure WPL will garner enough viewership and interest. The only limitation as I see it is that the pool of talent in women cricket in India is very limited. That needs to increase exponentially.”