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Business – Q&A;MSM India president Rohit Gupta

Meenakshi Verma Ambwani

Multi Screen Media, which owns Sony Entertainment Television (SET), has roped in several advertisers for bulk deals for the third season of Indian Rohit Gupta, President, MSM India
Premier League way in advance. The broadcaster has signed two co-presenting sponsors—Vodafone and Videocon. Others such as Pepsi, LG, Samsung ,Hyundai and HUL have signed as associate sponsors. In an interview with ET, MSM India president Rohit Gupta talked about how IPL’s third season is going to be bigger than the last season.

Are you happy with the way IPL has panned out so far? What is in store for the third season?

As a tournament, IPL has seen various ups and downs and has come back strongly. In the second season, the tournament had to be shifted to South Africa and within 15 days everything had to be organised. Even after all this, it was a roaring success. Despite some drop in television rating points (TRPs) by about 10% compared to the last season, it increased its reach to 123 million audience, almost 20% higher than the second season. Each team has about three to four team sponsors. There are ground sponsors and several other sponsors who have signed with us.

All these sponsors missed on the ground activities and other branding opportunities in the second season since the matches were held in South Africa. This time these sponsors and other stakeholders are going to make up for the missed opportunities in the second season. They are expected to spend huge amount to create a strong buzz and this will make it much bigger and better. This year everything is being done much in advance. There will be a lot more effort and emphasis on advertising, merchandising and other opportunities like never before.

SET started negotiating with brands for advertising deals almost 8-9 months in advance. Was it something to do with the cut in advertising spends ?

If you look at international tournaments like Superbowl or English Premier League, brands spend millions of dollars to advertise and associate with these tournaments and put in their best campaigns. In IPL too, we saw brands like Vodafone come out with their best campaigns during the tournament. Similarly this year, we approached brands in advance and advertisers too were happy about finalising deals early. Now they can put their best foot forward for the advertising campaigns. I think this year, there will be a lot of pressure on creative teams to come out with something new, interesting and innovative after brands like Vodafone have set the benchmark. Everyone has more time for the third season to plan their branding activities.

Why do you think there was a drop in TRPs last year? Do you have concerns about a further drop in these ratings this year ?

Last season, the TRPs went down about 10-15% largely because there were many afternoon games on weekdays. From 6 weeks the tournament time period came down to 5 weeks. But this time, the timing is very good — matches will be held from March 12 to April 25, 2010 spanning across 6 weeks. Most brands that chose to associate with us for IPL in the first season renewed their interest for the second season and are back with us for the third season. If they weren’t sure of IPL’s success they would have not come back to advertise.

How have you structured deals with advertisers for the third season? Are they different than the last season ?

In the last season we had little time to finalise advertising deals because of uncertainties and we ended up selling advertising spots inventory with big advertisers and several smaller advertisers. This year we have 10 big advertisers who will form the first tier and would pick up about 1,500 seconds.

Then we would have a second tier of advertisers in each of these categories who will pick lesser amount of spots. So with these 20 odd advertisers, we will have a sell-out situation. However, we will keep about 10% of our inventory for later and sell it for a premium.

Is there any new category of advertisers that have shown interest?

I think one of the most interesting facts about IPL is how FMCG companies have shown interest in cricket. Players like Godrej and HUL have been consistently advertising on IPL. FMCG companies are known to be most cost conscious of all categories and mostly spend on general entertainment channels. The T20 format draws huge amount of female viewers and suits family viewing. So it makes sense for FMCG companies to associate with IPL.

What is your take on the debate on various cricket formats especially between ODI and T20 format?

I believe T20 being a new format will only grow in its reach in the coming times. The ODI format would continue to draw a large male target audience and Tests would draw the more serious cricket buffs.

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December 21, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized |

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