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What Makes IPL The Most Sought-After Property For Marketers?

An unmatched reach, co-viewing nature, high attention quality, clutter-free ad environment and unrivalled ratings, make IPL the ultimate winner on TV

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Often touted as recession-proof and immune to dwindling economic conditions, IPL has cemented itself as an inimitable property, garnering popularity across geographies and demographics. The incessant inclination of audiences and marketers towards the game has been apparent from the numbers, where its viewership has grown by 50% over the last 2 years. Interestingly, the viewership is not just growing strong amongst males, but female audiences have also increased by 21% over last year. In fact, in a survey done by YouGov amongst 900 urban Indian women in March 2021, it was found that nearly 60% of women watch IPL broadcast because they love it, followed by 50% who watch to follow their favourite team. 

Given its advantages, brands do not shy away from investing big bucks on this game, realising the eyeballs IPL garners and the scale and aggregation of audience it draws. The last season saw 114 advertisers on IPL TV, where they seamlessly fulfilled their brand and business objectives, ranging from high SOV and high OTS for advertisers to making aggressive plays to driving category building initiatives to seed-in new concepts and shape new attitudes.

Decoding What Makes IPL A Marketers Delight

To evaluate and comprehend why IPL TV is able to give such differentiated impact, what aids this delivery and why marketers are willing to pay the premium, let’s take you through some important metrics:

REACH: There has been a 17% growth in IPL ratings, along with surge in reach for 2020 season. It recorded a whopping 405 million—out of a total TV universe of 836 million—across 21 channels that Star & Disney India aired the matches on, making it larger than any of the renowned general entertainment category (GEC) programs, that collectively reached about 350 million in 2020, suggests BARC’s report. 

At various discussions, Les Binet, Head of Effectiveness at Adam & Eve DDB has reiterated the power of TV to achieve reach and build brands. He has also advocated how brand building, especially on TV, is important in building memory patterns on audiences to make them feel good about the brand. Also, where digital is leading the way, he suggests marketers not lose sight of television as a medium. IPL in this sense serves the purpose to the optimum. And hence, has come out as a preferred choice for advertisers. 

ATTENTION: While we all realise how this metric is particularly important for broadcast, marketers often dig numbers using an attention index. Tvision’s methodology of the Attention Index showcases what happens to consumers attention during an ad break. It reports how engaged viewers are with a show or ad, in comparison to the average performance of all linear programming. A television show with an Attention Index above 100 is more likely than the average to keep the attention of its audience.

Talking to Yan Liu, CEO at TVision about high/ low attention ads and what kind of a difference in impact it can have on effectiveness, he explains, “Ad Attention is impacted by many different factors, including daypart, network, program, and the quality of the creative. Ad campaigns that are optimized for Attention - through smart media planning and thoughtful creative development - require significantly fewer GRPs in order to achieve the same level of brand recall as low-Attention ads. As an example, we’ve seen that in order to achieve 40% brand recall a high-Attention ad only requires 600 GRPs, whereas a low-Attention ad requires 2200 GRPs (see chart below). Optimizing plans for Attention can help brands significantly increase the efficiency of their campaigns.”


With IPL being a mega event on TV, Liu shares that cricket overall performs exceptionally well for Attention in India, and the IPL especially outperforms ad industry norms. “Ads that aired throughout the IPL had 41% higher Attention than the average ad, so it’s no wonder marketers want to invest there. The IPL’s performance is especially remarkable when you consider that sports typically deliver lower than average Attention scores, due to the length of the program, and the nature of the events,” he adds.

Aligning with the above metrics is another important area- Neuro Science. It is particularly helpful for marketers to learn about a number of questions that arise about a viewer’s choices, preference & decisions, what actually goes behind making them and how they create affinity with an advertisement. 

Shikher Chaudhary, Cognitive Neuroscientist, Director of Neurons Inc Asia throws light on how neuroscience is helpful in studying how we pay attention, show emotion, how memory works, how thoughts are formed, and so on. Understanding why sports content garner passionate engagement in particular, he describes, “Sports content with its constantly moving visuals, sound design and narrative with vested interest is a compelling medium to watch. One reason for this is to do with mirror neurons in the brain that show activation in the parts of the brain that are usually activated when you yourself are playing cricket. This ability to neurologically put yourself in the shoes of those on screen does not occur in any other genre. In addition, due to a psychological phenomenon called the Halo Effect, positive emotional responses garnered by the content is transferred onto the ads viewed in between it. It is for this reason that advertisements during sports content shows far more engagement than on any other content.

In one of the experiments done to analyse why sports get the highest passion of viewers across any content, Chaudhary explains how they conducted brain mapping analysis of viewers while they watched the same advertising across different genres, sports, GEC, news and movies. “During this study, not only were their neurological responses to the ads captured, but also responses to the content itself. It was found that in terms of passion, that driving emotional state that motivates people, sports content garnered 15% higher passion than GEC, 20% higher passion than news content and 12% higher passion than movies. A passionate response is exhibited physiologically by a higher heart rate, rapid respiration, pupil dilation, more mental preoccupation, focused attention and stronger choice response,” he shares.

The same study also revealed how a viewer responds to the exact same advertisement differently when it is aired between different genres of content. “We found that viewers show a far stronger response to the same ad seen on sports as compared to other content. For example, the mental effort required for viewers to process the same brands on sports content is 9.83% lower, distraction is 4.89% lower and engagement is 3.55% higher than general entertainment content.
 Most importantly the same ads on sports content product 3.67% stronger purchase intent in consumers than on GEC,” adds Chaudhary.

IPL TV: Consistently Delivering

“As much as 5% of the total AdEx and 12% of the TV AdEx today comes from IPL. Also, the number of advertisers on IPL has been steadily going up, establishing the attractiveness of the tournament to more and more advertisers. In 2015, we believe from under 70 advertisers, today it attracts almost double that number”, states Sam Balsara, Chairman at Madison World.

He goes on to explain why IPL has become an effective Brand Building property, owing to its inherent advantages:

1. It is Cricket. No other passion comes anywhere close to it in India

2. The game lends itself to delivering value for Advertisers because of its format. There are commercial breaks between each over, and that provides the necessary space for brands to make their presence felt during the tournament. So, you get the benefit of the ads playing out in a bunch of three or four at the most, rather than in a bunch of 20

3. IPL lasts around 50 days. Thus, marketers can choose spots in every match or every alternate match, and therefore build a certain amount of reach. That way, the brand can also build on its message playing out with a good frequency to the same viewer

4. While marketers focus on reach, and the reach of IPL is very good, it’s equally important to focus on frequency- repetition of the message at the same time and same place is important

IPL broadcast enables all of this, making it an important reason for brands to come to the platform year after year.

It wouldn't be wrong to conclude that IPL TV offers a fantastic bundle of benefits, in the form of high scale-reach, co-viewing high attention and aggregated simultaneous cultural imprinting that help advertisers reap an enhanced impact. Many advertisers have consistently been using IPL on TV from its very first edition and come back year after year and there are many like that. These brands themselves demonstrate just how well the IPL broadcast can work for any brand, from any category.