MEC’s study on IPL season two aims to predict viewership patterns, says Campaign India.
Mediaedge:cia (MEC)’s study ‘Food for Thought’ analyses the quantitative impact of factors like the general elections and change in venue on the second season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) and attempts to understand viewer consumption patterns based around the IPL. The study takes into account a sample size of 1568 and was conducted from March 23 to 25 after the announcement of South Africa as the new venue. IPL’s season one data has been used as the base.
The study attempts to understand the factors that most influence ratings. They were most likely to be affected by team preferences, preference for Indian players and also match timings. The top 10 matches were on par or better in terms of performance while the bottom 25 matches were worse off in terms of performances.
In the study, matches of three teams namely Chennai Super Kings, Rajasthan Royals and Mumbai Indians emerged as most likely to garner higher ratings vis a vis last year’s average. What this implies for advertisers and media, according to MEC, is the ability to negotiate with broadcasters for differential pricing for the bottom rung matches, allowing for negotiation with broadcasters for team based packages.
Shubha George, managing director, Mediaedge:cia, explained, “Apart from the general interest value that IPL has among advertisers, brands and agencies, one of the main reasons for this study is the high investment riding on the IPL which is likely to continue in future seasons. This is not something that we see as immediately impacting how we are going to buy, sell or plan inventories around the second season of IPL, but more as an understanding of how consumers are consuming IPL. Moving forward, we can estimate with a greater degree of confidence how seasons are going to change. We conduct the ‘Food for thought’ series across the world in different markets, which we are now bringing to India. IPL was the most topical, relevant subject to kickstart the series in India. ”
Slide 1: 50% say there will be no difference in their IPL viewing with elections around the corner
George admits that the timing for the study may seem a tad late given that the series is set to start soon and the majority of the inventory for the second season has already been sold, but points out that the study was designed as a pointer for future seasons. The study claims that the Lok Sabha elections will not impact IPL viewership as much as is being expected, with 50% of the respondents claiming that there would be no difference to their IPL viewership. (refer slide no. 1).
George adds, “More importantly, for us it is not about doing research that is static and point in time to influence immediate buying, but really to set a longer term perspective on the view of how consumers are looking at this event. It’s not just about here and now, and this year but about understanding the interaction of consumers with this sport.”
Slide 2: The study looks at team popularity as one of the important factors influencing viewership
George says that the single most important takeout from the study for the future was in understanding factors influencing ratings. “Those factors are unlikely to change. What will change is, within those factors, the ratings of different teams. What we observed in the study is that the popularity of the teams (refer to slide no. 2) is the single highest influencing factor.
Slide 3: Besides elections, change of venue, other factors are also expected to influence IPL ratings
The second factor is the Indian stars and the timing of the match, in terms of the day of the week and the timings. Foreign players are also being seen as a huge draw as they are seen to make the tournament more exciting.” (refer to slide no. 3)
Star power is also an important factor. Kolkata is the fourth most popular team even though it did not perform very well last year. A lot of that is attributed to the charisma of Saurav Ganguly and Shah Rukh Khan. “Knowing these factors, when we go into season three next year, it would be a safe bet to assume that the teams that will emerge popular are most likely to be driven by those that are succeeding such as Rajasthan Royals or Chennai Super Kings,” she adds.
On how broadcasters would react to the suggestion of differential pricing for lower rung matches, George answers, “They may not buy instantly. The fact is, as most seasons go by, efficiencies will start getting questioned. Today, it is season two and there is a lot of excitement. Maybe that will continue in season three as well as the series returns to India. But like in any continuing reality/sporting event, efficiencies will start getting questioned.”
She adds, “When we say that one needs to look at the bundling of matches, it does not mean that one should combine only the top ten matches, but how will you ensure that you prudently mix the top matches with the bottom or mid level matches. Sony does it themselves for the World Cup. Perhaps they will have to start packaging matches. Then instead of just looking at them from top to bottom, we could look at them as team based matches. The planning can also be more localized. It will also, to some extent, reduce the entry level cost for brands.”