Here's how IPL could explore potential beyond TV homes

Topics IPL

Chennai Super Kings' captain MS Dhoni plays a shot against Kolkata Knight Riders during IPL 2018 cricket match at Eden Garden in Kolkata. Photo: PTI
The recent initiative by the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) to provide viewership data outside homes has given television channels an opportunity to better understand audience trends of key shows. The ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) is likely to be among the first to benefit from BARC’s move.

Broadcaster STAR India can now get viewership data of IPL matches viewed in homes and outside households — at restaurants, bars and pubs in select cities.

STAR India MD Sanjay Gupta says that as more viewership data will now be available, advertisers can better target their audience through IPL. And broadcasters can take advantage of a new revenue stream: they can come out with specific distribution plans and packages for commercial establishments.

There are hurdles, however, Gupta says, despite the potential.

BARC data reveal that in the first two weeks since the new service was launched, the IPL registered a cumulative reach of 9.5 million viewers in case of out-of-home 

TV viewing in Mumbai, New Delhi and Bengaluru. Experts say these places see a surge in footfalls during the IPL.

“Sports has been a community (viewing) activity and so it is natural for people to go out in groups and enjoy an IPL game with friends and/or family. Unfortunately in India, commercial establishments pay (distribution platforms) the same as private subscribers. In the UK, 15 per cent of the top line, for broadcasters like Sky (Sports), comes from restaurants and bars. There, of course, the culture of sports cafés and bars is prevalent, which also adds to the revenue,” says Gupta.

Back in 2014, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India ordered that commercial establishments, which were not charging patrons for using cable services, need not be charged extra by DTH operators or digital cable service providers.

As a result, restaurants, pubs, bars and clubs today can avail of cable and DTH connections at the same rates as domestic subscribers. 

The argument broadcasters have here is that if content is in any way attracting more footfalls for the business, then the content creator should be able to monetise that avenue.

Gupta recognises the potential but also concedes that for STAR India, the focus in year one of IPL telecast would be to grow viewership. “This year, we were very clear that it is going to be about increasing the viewership. Monetisation will follow in the coming years,” he said.

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