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Expanding Brand Outreach Through Sports

Brands are expanding their creative advertising and reaping benefits of placement on the IPL platform — and not just brands with a connect to sports.

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NSTAR POWER, LARGE SPEND , buzzing brand advertisements, and grabbing eyeballs — these are just a few of the traits of the Indian Premier League (IPL). The IPL’s brand power as a sports league has grown from a brand valuation of $3.2 billion in 2014 to $6.18 billion in 2020. 

Overall, the league is expected to generate income of nearly Rs 4,000 crore through broadcasting rights and sponsorship deals for the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). Its trump card is the ability to use innovative digital marketing strategies and engage fans through both online and offline channels.

The IPL season is akin to a festive period, not just for cricket fans, but also for the ecosystem surrounding IPL that are affected by the buzz. When sporting events across the world were suspended, the IPL ensued. However, economic activities, including ticket sales, fan parks, and live viewing events in establishments such as parks and pubs were impacted by the pandemic. This brought on challenges for the 2020 season that had to keep the lights on to mitigate economic losses. 

Although the 2020 season saw a pandemic-infused dip in brand value from $6.8 billion in 2019, the fanfare behind the IPL has not slowed down.

High Viewership 

With no major substitute for entertainment events, the IPL is standing up to the pandemic on the back of its strong user engagement and marketing strategy. It continues to enjoy high viewership. 

Per BARC India, the 2020 season reached a cumulative 405 million TV viewers, i.e., nearly one in every two TV viewers watched the 2020 season. This was achieved despite the fact that the IPL was aired on fewer channels in 2020 (21 vs 24 in the prior year). Digital subscriptions for Disney+ Hotstar increased by about 7.5 million subscribers during IPL 2020.  

A large portion of viewers are in the 15-40 age group, providing a strong target group for advertisers and brands. The IPL’s desirability as a marketing property remains robust, drawing a greater number of brands seeking a visibility boost. 

The count of brands advertised in IPL 2020 reportedly rose by 3 per cent (37 new categories added).

Brands are expanding their creative advertising and reaping benefits of placement on the IPL platform — and not just brands with a connect to sports.

Brands from across industries witnessed an uptake in user addition and web traffic during the IPL season. These brands range from audio electronics, credit card management applications, fantasy sports, education technology (EdTech), and others. ‘Dream 11’, the title sponsor for IPL 2020, reported a 100 million jump in user base, following its association with the tournament. 

Rising Revenues

The league generated advertisement revenue of Rs 3,200 crore in 2020, surpassing pre-pandemic 2019 advertisement revenue of Rs 2,200 crore. It is expected to earn about Rs 3,500 crore in the 2021 season. This would be five times the ad revenue from the 2010 season.

The IPL’s potential as a marketing platform is echoed in the valuation of the broadcasting and digital rights, with Star India paying an average of $510 million per annum for global rights between 2018 and 2022 versus an average of more than $100 million per annum between 2008 and 2017. Advertisement spot rates are expected to increase by 10−15 per cent in the 2021 season compared with 2020. 

A key element of the IPL’s strong brand is its ability to engage and captivate viewers. Viewers multi-task during a game; they order food, play fantasy leagues, or engage with match experts.  

The IPL experience has gone beyond the game and integrated these activities (such as marketing special deals on participating brands during a specific section of the match or loyalty points) as part of the viewing experience. 

The IPL has also expanded its reach to regional languages, captivating viewers by adding familiarity of the language and regional artists. Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu viewers constitute more than 85 per cent of the total sports viewership, opening up opportunities for brands to engage targeted regional audiences.

Growing Brand Strength 

The league has continued to showcase its brand strength in 2021 with the opening match garnering 323 million impressions, the second highest in the history of IPL and within half a year of the last edition of the tournament. 

The IPL platform has evolved with the pandemic and strengthened its base. It already had a successful 13th edition and is looking to emulate its success in the 14th edition.  

Considering reports that organisers are mulling the addition of more franchises and matches to the 15th edition, the platform’s value is expected to go up further driven by increased consumption. 

Stirred by fan enthusiasm and brand interest, the league would continue to bring brands closer to fans while keeping them hooked to the game

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


Prashanth Rao

The author is Partner, Deloitte India

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Vidyasagar Prabakar

Manager, Deloitte India

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Anirudh Rao

Analyst at Deloitte India

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