Campaign India Team
May 08, 2009

GECs beware, the IPL has cut the year by 12.3%

The first time I saw a test match, I saw ‘one-third’ of a day. It was in 1971, and I was in Calcutta (not Kolkata) and all matches were sold out. To help consumers, tickets used to have three tags: pre-lunch, post-lunch and post-tea. I was just ten years old, but my father thought I deserved to see at least one session. It was fantastic and I was hooked to cricket.

GECs beware, the IPL has cut the year by 12.3%

The first time I saw a test match, I saw ‘one-third’ of a day. It was in 1971, and I was in Calcutta (not Kolkata) and all matches were sold out. To help consumers, tickets used to have three tags: pre-lunch, post-lunch and post-tea. I was just ten years old, but my father thought I deserved to see at least one session. It was fantastic and I was hooked to cricket.

Hooked enough to have seen a number of tests, a number of Ranji Trophy matches despite the advent of television. Hooked enough to have sold the title sponsorship of the World Masters’ Cricket for US$ 1,000,000 when I worked with STAR TV. Hooked enough to have suffered an eight hour drive to Pune to bring my son to Bombay to watch the finals of the Titan Cup.

I love cricket.And I just don’t like the IPL.

I don’t hide my dislike.

Last year, based on what I knew of cricket and cricket fans, I argued that IPL would not work.

It did. And how.

The success of the IPL left me flummoxed. How could other cricket fans like this rubbish masquerading as cricket? How could fans want to watch filmstars and cheerleaders? How could page 3 take over a sport?

In hindsight, I saw the answer. They weren’t watching cricket, they were watching the best entertainment that TV had to offer. There were no new films released during that period. No new TV shows except Paanchvi Pass. Simply put, there were no alternative entertainment options.

This year, the coverage of the elections on the news channels have proved that eyeballs would desert the IPL if options are available.

This should teach Bollywood and the GECs a lesson. That the market exists during the IPL – if you have a product that appeals.

Even if you do not have a product, you cannot just stand by and watch as the IPL takes away your audience – that would be downright dangerous.As it is, the IPL is now an annual event. If you decide you cannot compete with the IPL, you have surrendered 12.3% of the year. If the elections had been before or after the IPL, you would have surrendered about 25% of the year.These are crazy figures.

So when we have a year that sees the football world cup at Indian prime time, and the IPL and the general elections in India – and such a year will certainly come—you would surrender about 40% of the year.That’s crazy.

Acknowledge that Lalit Modi and his team are competing with STAR Plus, Colors and Zee. And get your programming heads to work on programming that entertains more than the IPL does. Shouldn’t be too difficult, considering that all programming heads spend all year creating programming that out-performs the competition.

Don’t make the same mistake that I made, thinking of the IPL as cricket, as a sport.

Think of the IPL as an entertainment option. Break up audiences that now flock to the IPL and figure out who they are – sex, age, income, geography.Figure out what these audiences want, much as you do every day.Brainstorm, research, test and deliver an entertainment alternative to IPL.

Reminds me of the time when Coca-Cola decided to enter the bottled water business and when I first learnt of the phrase ‘share of throat’. Any drink that went down the throats of consumers were competition to Coca-Cola; milk, water, nimbu pani. Not, as one might simplistically think, bottled beverages only.

In this case, it’s share of audience.

The IPL is walking away with audiences that all the GECs created. And right now, it seems you don’t even care.

And if you don’t care for a few more reasons, Lalit Modi and the IPL will be a fully-grown monster.

A fully-grown monster that you allowed to grow.

Source:
Campaign India