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Disney Star Eyes ₹1,600+ Crore from T20 WC Ad Sales: Projections

New Delhi: The upcoming ICC Men's T20 cricket World Cup is likely to bring in about ₹1,600–1,800 crore in advertising revenue for Disney Star, the official media rights holder this season, similar to the previous tournament in Australia two years ago.

Multiple media planners told Mint that the revenue figure will likely stay unchanged from the 2022 season despite the number of matches and teams being higher this time. This is because for the Indian audiences, some matches will start early in the morning, which could make it difficult for the broadcaster to grab eyeballs.

The month-long, 20-team tournament starts on 2 June and concludes on 29 June, with matches being played in the US and West Indies.

The broadcaster is pegged to have a similar set of advertisers as the ongoing Indian Premier League. Disney Star—while still in the process of inking deals and is in the final discussions to sell about 40% of its advertising spot inventory already—expects to close top sponsor spots that are being seen in the BCCI-backed cricket extravaganza IPL. With summer at its peak, FMCG advertisers will also come forward, despite a slow April-June quarter that the consumer goods makers are projecting.

Ajit Varghese, executive vice president for advertisement sales for Disney Star, told Mint that the broadcaster is in discussions with advertiser categories like FMCG, fintech as well as gaming brands and others. These will be the top categories this year, he said. 

Interest in gaming

"Last year and more so this year, we've seen a huge interest in gaming and banking and finance services sectors in cricket. Fintech, too, is an important sector. There is also infrastructure and industrial products that will emerge as a strong category. Interestingly, earlier FMCG companies would contribute in single digits to cricket revenues, now they are in the strong double digits," Varghese said.

The tournament will feature a much-awaited India-Pakistan clash that will take place on June 9. India will also battle it out with half a dozen teams like Ireland, the US and Canada and will have four matches in the first round. The broadcaster hopes to see a 50% growth in advertiser count this year over the previous T20 world cup two years ago.

Digital shift

Media buyers estimated that in the last ICC Men's T20 World Cup in Australia in 2022, the broadcaster earned ₹1,600–1,700 crore, of which ₹1,000 crore came to linear TV. This season, it is expected to earn a similar amount, with perhaps more being directed towards digital platform. It could be disadvantageous that the timings of the matches may not link up to India, but there will be a greater number of matches than in the previous season. 

Ad rates for T20 tournaments generally have a 35-40% premium over one-day internationals because of the limited inventory and higher audience. But this year, rates could be negotiated lower, as the tournament will have a combination of both promising and not-so-promising matches, said a media buyer who wished not to be named. Teams such as Uganda, Oman, Papua New Guinea, and Canada aren't particularly known for their cricketing prowess, and matches featuring them are unlikely to be high on the thrill quotient.

The premiums are likely to come in during the India-Pakistan clash and when the playoffs begin. "We can't disregard the fact that cricket is a big driver of top-line growth and any company that is looking for top-line growth does advertise on cricket. The sports viewership of the country stands at about 750-800 million," Disney Star's Varghese added.

On the same day as the India-Pakistan clash, West Indies plays Uganda. Opening-day matches include USA versus Canada and West Indies versus Papua New Guinea. 

Driving a bargain

However, media buyers are looking to drive a bargain. “Disney Star also knows it may not be able to sell all the matches and the full inventory, so they will try and drive the prices up for the matches that will be popular and their revenue targets will be fulfilled from the higher premium on the high-demand matches. The entire rights are with them so there is a big opportunity to consolidate and sell to their clients like earlier," said the media buyer cited earlier. The tournament this time comes immediately after the IPL. 

On the Star Sports Network (linear TV), the co-presenting sponsorship is being sold for ₹55-60 crore for both High Definition (HD) and Standard Definition (SD) feeds. Alternatively, if there is an exclusive HD or SD coverage, the prices range from ₹20-22 crore for HD-only and ₹42-45 crore for SD-only this year. Associate sponsorship, a step below co-presenting, will cost ₹40 crore for both HD and SD, or ₹15 crore for HD-only and ₹28-30 crore for SD-only. For brands looking to secure advertising spots during the event, the spot buy option presents an opportunity, with prices set at ₹6-6.5 lakh per 10-second spot. 

Sharing costs

On the OTT platform Disney+ Hotstar, the company is asking co-presenting sponsors to shell out ₹80 crore, while the powered-by sponsorship will cost ₹55-60 crore. Advertisers looking for the associate sponsorship will have to cough up ₹30-35 crore.

Moreover, advertising rates are determined based on Cost Per Mille (CPM), with rates set at ₹250 for mobile devices and ₹450 for Connected TV (CTV) for the entire tournament. For premier matches like those featuring the Indian team and knockout stages, CPM rates increase to ₹500 for mobile and ₹1,000 for CTV. 

There are a total of 20 teams and 55 matches in this tournament.

Earlier this year, the International Cricket Council (ICC) had extended its global partnership with soft drinks giant Coca-Cola for eight years across all its three formats (5-day tests, 50-over one-day internationals, and T20) up until the end of 2031. "Quite a few companies are in active conversations to sign up for the World Cup, so that's a good sign. Summer continues to be hot so beverages will be a category that will do well. By default that will activate the entire category and call for a competitive presence as well. Automobiles and mobile handsets will be big categories as well as some durables, in addition to cricket categories like gaming," said Hema Malik, chief investment officer, IPG Mediabrands India.

Disney Star had announced last week that it had made the World Cup viewership on its OTT platform Hotstar free on mobile. The freebie game began when Jio made the IPL free for the first time two seasons ago for IPL15. The last ICC World Cup was also available for free on mobile devices on Disney+ Hotstar, but for connected TV users, it remains behind a paywall. 

Ad focused

The companies now focus less on making money through subscriptions and more from advertisements. This loss is expected to be made up for through advertising. This is because of their flexibility on digital advertising. There is no fixed inventory to sell like in the case of television where companies sell 'secondages'. Here, they sell 'impressions'. When a subscription is no longer needed to log in, more people end up watching and so there are more 'impressions' to be created which means there can be the potential to maximise advertising revenues. 

Connected TV has emerged as a profitable platform and most companies that want to advertise now see it as very important. The broadcaster hopes to bet big on a new option it is giving its advertisers: An addressable TV advertising option is one where advertisers can customize each ad for each connected TV. Additionally, Tata Play and Star Sports have also extended their partnership for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024 for addressable ads, offering brands an opportunity to target high income viewers across the top 8 metro cities. “We always hear that the reach of a tournament goes down once it begins but if you see this season of the IPL, we have already achieved the entire last season’s viewership on television in just 50 matches and about 10-15 games still remain. Similarly, there are more matches this year and double the number of prime-time or evening matches over last season’s T20 World Cup, ” Varghese added. 


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