Ebbing wave may unleash big advertisement spends on cricket


The six-month period starting this month is expected to see one of the largest advertising spending on cricket in recent years, executives representing media buying firms and companies said.

This will be driven by five major back-to-back tournaments, the ebbing economic impact of the second Covid-19 wave and tournaments coinciding with Indian festivals when consumption usually peaks.

Some industry executives said there could be a 20-25% increase in ad spends over the same period last year, riding on big-ticket cricket. This, they said, was based on the expectation that there would be no third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Shashi Sinha, chief executive of media buying group IPG Mediabrands which represents Coca-Cola and Amazon, said: “All ingredients indicate a windfall, and it is looking like a bumper five-six months for cricket-led advertising. The overriding factor would be that there is no third wave and that the economy continues to recover without further setbacks.”

While the Indian Premier League’s remaining matches are scheduled for September-October in the UAE, the 16-team T20 World Cup will be held in October-November. The Indian cricket team’s Sri Lanka and England tours are on track in July and August, and New Zealand’s tour of India is slated for November-December. The World Cup will be the first global event organised by the International Cricket Council (ICC) since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, while IPL will resume in September after a pandemic-induced, mid-tournament suspension.

The broadcasting rights of the sport are split between Star Sports Network which paid ₹16,347.50 crore for IPL’s television and digital rights for 2018 to 2022, and Sony Pictures Networks through its channels Sony Six and Sony Six HD. Both broadcasters are expected to rake in big profits.

“The resumption of a very competitive season of IPL followed by the T20 World Cup is an opportunity that marketers rarely come across. This combined with the festive season is going to make it extremely competitive among brands to sweep through the limited inventory, as they will want to bounce back stronger with the overall economy gaining stability, create inflexions in business and make aggressive plays to drive customer acquisition and growth,” said Anil Jayaraj, executive vice president, Star Sports.

Sony, which has broadcast rights to the Sri Lanka and England series, has also collaborated with Twitter for premium coverage of the tours.

Rohit Gupta, chief revenue officer (ad sales & international business) at Sony Pictures Sports Network, said: “Sports as a genre is showing tremendous growth with brands onboarding sports to establish a connect with the youth, which is the toughest target audience since they are constantly flirting within so many platforms, including mainstream and digital.”

Brands across sectors like ecommerce, gaming, edtech, FMCG, e-wallets, smart phones and automobiles will be leading the spending, media buying executives said.

Ashish Bhasin, chief executive-APAC and chairman of Dentsu, which represents Maruti, Mastercard and Microsoft, said: “Cricket is evergreen in India and leading on from here to the festive season should be a good phase for advertising. There is pent-up demand which we expect to kick in and monsoon predictions are looking good, but it will depend on how the festive season and economic recovery shapes up.”

Last month, the ICC signed up online investment platform Upstox as an official partner, starting with the just-concluded World Test Championship final and men’s T20 World Cup this year.


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