Tata IPL 2022: TV viewership Plunges, but experts pin hopes on OTT

The Tata group’s Indian Premier League (IPL) 2022 drew 229 million television viewers in the first week of the tournament’s 15th year, falling short of last year’s figures.

Last year’s IPL had a reach of 267 million viewers, according to data supplied by the Broadcast Audience Research Council India (BARC), a TV audience measuring firm.

The total number of people who watched an event for at least one minute is referred to as reach.

TV viewership has decreased for a variety of reasons, but it is not cause for panic because a tectonic shift in watching habits has occurred, according to Divyanshu Singh, head of sales and marketing at JSW Sports.

“If you look at concurrent viewers on Disney+Hotstar, in 2021 there were 10 million people and right now that number has increased to 13 million,” Singh said.

IPL’s official digital streaming partner is Disney + Hotstar. Over-the-top (OTT) platforms are another term for streaming services.

Mobile phone the new set-top box

Singh added: “We see a similar pattern in football and kabaddi wherein Pro-Kabaddi League (PKL) which is primarily a Tier II, III property saw a significant drop in TV viewership as compared to earlier benchmarks but for Indian Super League (ISL), which is an urban phenomenon, the loss to OTT was not so much because urban Indians were early adopters of the league.”

Time spent and audience traffic metrics on sports and aggregator-based OTT’s is almost 1.5-3x that of broadcasters and other niche OTT platforms, Karan Taurani, senior vice president at Elara Capital, said in an earlier interview.

While most OTTs convert 10 percent of their monthly active users (MAUs) into daily active users (DAUs), Disney+Hotstar, which offers sports, especially IPL, has a higher conversion rate of 15-20 percent, he said.

Ambarish Ray, co-founder and CEO of Digital Dogs Content and Media, put it this way: the mobile phone has become the new set-top box and streaming is the new broadcasting.

According to Neha Puri, founder and CEO of Vavo Digital, many firms have shifted their advertising from television to digital media. Instead of airing shorter 30-40-second adverts on television, large sums of money are now being spent to sell products via digital media.

Compared to the advertising video on-demand (AVOD) business, which is developing at a quicker rate of 30-35 percent, digital advertising is increasing at a rate of 25% every year.

Traffic driver and game changer

According to Rajeev Khanna, a cricket analyst and former vice-president of the IPL franchise Rajasthan Royals, a dip in TV viewership shouldn’t be a huge issue because the audience is split between TV and the OTT platform.

“People are going back to work and stepping out, which is why TV viewership is dipping. The viewership is going to increase in playoffs, especially if we look at the performance of young talent in the league,” Khanna said.

According to Shirley D’Costa, chief business officer at media network Kulfi Collective, an auction of IPL media rights is due in June, and the league has seen a large increase in viewership since the last such auction.

“I don’t see the present audience dramatically hurting the auction,” D’Costa said, adding that the IPL will remain a constant traffic driver and game changer for any network that acquires the rights.

The IPL drew 380 million viewers until match 35 last year, 12 million more than the IPL 2020 at the same point.

Marketers worried

Whatever the experts say, marketers are concerned about the decline in television viewing. “It’s horrible to watch the IPL’s viewership plummet by nearly 30%. Advertisers have paid a premium above the previous year’s costs “said Sahil Chopra, CEO of digital marketing firm iCubesWire.

A 33% decline in TV ratings for the first eight games is significant, and if the next few weeks do not compensate, it could be cause for alarm, according to Prashant Puri, co-founder and CEO of AdLift.

This year’s IPL ad charges jumped to Rs 16 lakh for a 10-second advertisement, up from Rs 14 lakh the previous year.

Reasons behind viewership dip

Marketers listed some of the factors they believe contributed to the decline in IPL TV viewership.

“One reason hurting IPL 2022 TV viewing is the relaxation of hygiene norms and the opening up of outdoor activities for customers,” stated Kulfi Collective’s D’Costa.

One reason for the reduction, according to JSW Sports’ Singh, is a sharp rebound in traffic at bars and pubs, as well as people viewing IPL matches outside of their homes.

Puri of Vavo Digital pointed out that this season is lengthier than previous ones due to the addition of two extra teams.

“May be that leads to people waiting for the semifinals to tune into the excitement rather than following it from Day One. Also, during the last season, IPL had no afternoon games in the first week, while this season the afternoon games have pulled down the ratings,” she added.

Cricket fatigue?

One explanation for the reduction in TV viewership for IPL 2020, according to Manveer Singh Malhi, a marketing consultant, is cricket tiredness. “There is only a six-month gap between IPL 14 and 15. Due to COVID-19, the 2021 edition was only partially played in the second half of the year “He made the point.

Fans’ enthusiasm has been muted by venue restrictions and matches not being played locally, according to Sandeep Goyal, managing director of Rediffusion.

“There are too many changes in the teams so it looks like there is no player loyalty. Only the likes of (MS) Dhoni stayed with the same franchise for 15 years. To build stickiness and loyalty, the franchises have to have much lesser player attrition. Most of the better overseas players are no longer playing the IPL. That also is a big downer,” he said.