The Indian Premier League has seen definite improvement in terms of tight finishes with several matches going down to the wire. Despite this, the TV ratings for the IPL have taken a hit this season. According to an indiantelevision.com report, the average viewership for the first seven matches was 3.76. This fell down to an average of 3.65 for 16 matches.
Although this dip has made it tough for Multi Screen Media to protect its ad revenue, yet it remains a profitable property for them. "Media may file whatever they want to, but if you look at the top 10 programmes you will get your answer," IPL CEO Sundar Raman said.
The first 27 matches of the IPL have managed a viewership of 3.53 TVR, down from 3.88 TVR a year ago, according to TAM data (for CS4+ TG, All India market). Even the cumulative reach has taken a beating down from 140 million last year to 137 million.
But GMR Sports Marketing Head Hemant Dua feels this drop in viewership is natural progression in the life of a sporting league and believes that the expectations from the IPL are unfair. "I think the IPL is maturing as a league and there will be times when the ratings will plateau a bit or will increase but overall the IPL has done well this season and attendance for matches has been good. The expectation from the IPL is high but one should understand that the ratings are strong enough," Dua said.
Some are even laying the blame on the fragmentation of Indian media landscape. According to MEC South Asia COO Shubha George, the IPL ratings have been in line with the expectations. "We had predicted a drop in viewership, but if you look at the ratings they are still better. After all, which property will give you a viewership of 3.5 TVR and a pan-India reach," she said.
Despite the ratings going down, MSM have stood firm on not lowering the rates which might set a benchmark that would be difficult to emulate. Due to this they have managed to sell only 70 percent of the inventory of which a large part is being used for self promotion.
For MSM to substantially boost its ad revenues from the IPL, ratings will have to improve. "They won't command a premium on average rating of 3.5. But the IPL as a property still remains a valuable proposition," said a media analyst.