IPL 2012 April 20, 2012

How good is the IPL as a TV product?

By Aamod Desai, India ‘… And it’s time for the strategic time-out,’ the commentator says only to reappear – or rather, only to be reheard – about five seconds short of 2.5 minutes as the crowd at the ground counts down those seconds on the ticker
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By Aamod Desai, India ‘… And it’s time for the strategic time-out,’ the commentator says only to reappear – or rather, only to be reheard – about five seconds short of 2.5 minutes as the crowd at the ground counts down those seconds on the ticker. In between we have all the brands who have affiliated with the IPL promoting their products.

Cricket is probably the only sport that allows its advertisers so much live airtime, and the broadcaster often attempts to squeeze out every second possible for his investors. There’s nothing wrong with the advertiser or the broadcaster trying to maximise his potential gains.

During the current season, we have had two outstanding high-scoring ‘afternoon’ games, involving teams chasing down big totals (CSK v RCB and RR v DC), followed by the second game of that day. In between, the broadcaster manages to fit in only the post-match presentation and two-three minutes of packaged highlights; for a TV viewer this is too short a time to recollect the match that has transpired, especially when it’s a cracker of a match like those big chases.

In general, more often than not we ardent fans end up watching highlights of an outstanding innings, a tight game or a brilliant bowling spell again and again. The broadcasts of the IPL matches don’t provide the viewer the chance to ruminate on whatever he has seen. Undoubtedly the IPL is more of a commercial product, using the glamorous avatar of the game, but we ought to look at it from the perspective of it being a prime-time sporting event too.

Those who advocate for the IPL will always cite the audience it attracts on TV. The time slots are set with a view to accommodate those who struggle to follow ODI cricket or Test matches during the daytime. Entire families go out to the stadiums to cheer their favourite sides, while a few other thousand families enjoy the three-something hours of ‘cricketainment’ over dinner in their living room. In keeping with this family audience, to keep things light, the broadcaster has traditionally roped in VJs to anchor the pre, mid and post-innings shows, direct studio analysis and ground reports. This probably helps the ‘non-ardent’ cricket followers connect with what is going on.

TV ratings were the talking point of the IPL after the first week. The ratings are down and experts will debate over the possible reasons. Despite the shabby numbers, the IPL remains good enough as a cricket product and can compete as a TV product, even when compared to successful TV soaps or weekend events. But things can’t be taken for granted. IPL as a TV product will have lots of questions to ponder, for the ratings aren’t growing. The fourth edition had a valid reason to back the drop in ratings, considering most fans were quite possibly sated with the preceding World Cup. Season V though will struggle to provide reasons unless the ratings improve.

Good televised packaging leads to higher viewership. Move around IPL viewers and you will find a section of people who like to watch the live cricket, and then move on somewhere else to read previews or reviews and match analysis, for he doesn’t get what he wants form the post-match show, or the depth and time needed to contemplate on the action that he has just witnessed. The problem with multi-genre viewership is to identify the group that has the majority and cater accordingly. The IPL has such a diverse fan base that the organisers and broadcasters won’t have an easy task accommodating the demands of all their viewers in their final package, and so keep the ratings on an upward curve. This could be a reason for the drop in the TV ratings. And it poses a big challenge for the brand itself, for the IPL is and will remain primarily a TV product.

Nikita Bastian is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Aman on April 24, 2012, 13:41 GMT

    People are talking about IPL's coverage in HD. But, look at the prices. Rs 5 per day on Airtel (225 rs for the duration of the competition). All the other HD channels (including ESPN, Star Cricket and Ten HD) put together do not cost as much. I assume that most people do not watch the games in HD anyway.

    IPL coverage is poor. Pre and post match shows are a joke. Commentary is poor and is full of unnecessary cliches. Obviously the mention of sponsors at every opportunity (DLF maximum, Citi moment of success etc) is annoying. As soon as the last ball of the over is bowled, ads pop up. IPL is strictly business. For a Cricket lover it is not worth watching everyday. Quality of Cricket is not great either. The tournament is too long and fans definitely get burned out by the time it draws to a close. I don't know if casual sports fans are attracted towards the IPL but for serious Cricket lovers IPL is not something to look forward to.

  • Big Boy on April 23, 2012, 14:41 GMT

    The IPL may provide the viewers, both in the stadiums and at home a quick dose of exhilirating cricket, but if the game solely becomes a means of advertisment and publcity by corporations with nothing but profit and no regards for the welfare of the game, then we as the cricket community really have some tough decisions to make

  • JG2704 on April 22, 2012, 9:14 GMT

    IPL is a tournament where at times I can really enjoy it and other times I couldn't care less. It is not the sort of thing I would religiously watch.The one thing I don't enjoy alot of the time is the commentary. I know they have to try and relay some enthusiasm but our commentators like Lloyd manage to do that without having to try and invent names for 6s or decent catches etc although I guess it is aimed at kids etc. Also hate the cheerleaders/dancers etc (male or female).If I was there it would be to watch the cricket.I do like (in Eng) the fancy dress etc but you don't seem to get that in IPL.Also enjoy it when you have the commentators having a fielder wired up to talk to during the game

  • Ritesh on April 22, 2012, 2:46 GMT

    The transmission is HD is great with no ad breaks in between overs and even during time out. But am sure once there are enough HD shot adverts and the HD viewership increases we will be losing this privilege. About IPL, I think this is better than watching any dumb soap opera on TV. Atleast when am back from office I have some nice living cricket action to watch. Also the quality of cricket has been a lot good in this edition with a sporting wickets prepared at most locations and isn't just batting your opposition out of the game. It is also helped by the T20 format where no team can be a clear favorite giving us quite an open tournament. Although the "City moments and the KArrbon Kamals" make it irritating, but the HD-no-advert experience makes it a lot enjoyable, esp this year with so many last over finishes.

  • Ratib on April 21, 2012, 21:30 GMT

    Random thought: Why not get rid of the semi and the final altogether, and pit the IPL like a real league?

  • chola on April 21, 2012, 21:26 GMT

    This year, too much of hindi is used in pre and post match shows. Who needs hindi when the match is between DC and CSK.

  • Alex Hamp on April 21, 2012, 19:31 GMT

    I think the commentary is half the problem. It is truly dire, patronising,uninformative, often poor, too full of hyberbole, cliche ridden nor is it particularly insightful.

    Im looking at you Mr Shastri, Krishnan and Morrison

  • Gizza on April 21, 2012, 11:04 GMT

    @Sam, you make an interesting point about the cheerleaders. I remember the South African World T20 also had male cheerleaders/dancers. I felt that quite good and promoting equality of the sexes. Especially since T20 is supposedly a game watched by the entire family (wife, daughters, sisters mothers) you would think anyone with half a brain would capitalise on that.

  • suresh on April 21, 2012, 6:08 GMT

    Number of matches is the problem. It should be reduced to 30 odd then the viewer will show more interest on it.

  • Ajay Vijayan on April 21, 2012, 6:05 GMT

    I was irresistible yesterday to watch what would happen between Australia and West Indies. Had the rain gods not intervened that would have been a cracker of the match. And I don't even bother to know the score cards let yet Results itself of IPL matches. The Test and ODI's shows the genuineness, where as for the IPL its all of artificiality. I get awkward the pre-post match sessions along with the matches of IPL.

  • Aman on April 24, 2012, 13:41 GMT

    People are talking about IPL's coverage in HD. But, look at the prices. Rs 5 per day on Airtel (225 rs for the duration of the competition). All the other HD channels (including ESPN, Star Cricket and Ten HD) put together do not cost as much. I assume that most people do not watch the games in HD anyway.

    IPL coverage is poor. Pre and post match shows are a joke. Commentary is poor and is full of unnecessary cliches. Obviously the mention of sponsors at every opportunity (DLF maximum, Citi moment of success etc) is annoying. As soon as the last ball of the over is bowled, ads pop up. IPL is strictly business. For a Cricket lover it is not worth watching everyday. Quality of Cricket is not great either. The tournament is too long and fans definitely get burned out by the time it draws to a close. I don't know if casual sports fans are attracted towards the IPL but for serious Cricket lovers IPL is not something to look forward to.

  • Big Boy on April 23, 2012, 14:41 GMT

    The IPL may provide the viewers, both in the stadiums and at home a quick dose of exhilirating cricket, but if the game solely becomes a means of advertisment and publcity by corporations with nothing but profit and no regards for the welfare of the game, then we as the cricket community really have some tough decisions to make

  • JG2704 on April 22, 2012, 9:14 GMT

    IPL is a tournament where at times I can really enjoy it and other times I couldn't care less. It is not the sort of thing I would religiously watch.The one thing I don't enjoy alot of the time is the commentary. I know they have to try and relay some enthusiasm but our commentators like Lloyd manage to do that without having to try and invent names for 6s or decent catches etc although I guess it is aimed at kids etc. Also hate the cheerleaders/dancers etc (male or female).If I was there it would be to watch the cricket.I do like (in Eng) the fancy dress etc but you don't seem to get that in IPL.Also enjoy it when you have the commentators having a fielder wired up to talk to during the game

  • Ritesh on April 22, 2012, 2:46 GMT

    The transmission is HD is great with no ad breaks in between overs and even during time out. But am sure once there are enough HD shot adverts and the HD viewership increases we will be losing this privilege. About IPL, I think this is better than watching any dumb soap opera on TV. Atleast when am back from office I have some nice living cricket action to watch. Also the quality of cricket has been a lot good in this edition with a sporting wickets prepared at most locations and isn't just batting your opposition out of the game. It is also helped by the T20 format where no team can be a clear favorite giving us quite an open tournament. Although the "City moments and the KArrbon Kamals" make it irritating, but the HD-no-advert experience makes it a lot enjoyable, esp this year with so many last over finishes.

  • Ratib on April 21, 2012, 21:30 GMT

    Random thought: Why not get rid of the semi and the final altogether, and pit the IPL like a real league?

  • chola on April 21, 2012, 21:26 GMT

    This year, too much of hindi is used in pre and post match shows. Who needs hindi when the match is between DC and CSK.

  • Alex Hamp on April 21, 2012, 19:31 GMT

    I think the commentary is half the problem. It is truly dire, patronising,uninformative, often poor, too full of hyberbole, cliche ridden nor is it particularly insightful.

    Im looking at you Mr Shastri, Krishnan and Morrison

  • Gizza on April 21, 2012, 11:04 GMT

    @Sam, you make an interesting point about the cheerleaders. I remember the South African World T20 also had male cheerleaders/dancers. I felt that quite good and promoting equality of the sexes. Especially since T20 is supposedly a game watched by the entire family (wife, daughters, sisters mothers) you would think anyone with half a brain would capitalise on that.

  • suresh on April 21, 2012, 6:08 GMT

    Number of matches is the problem. It should be reduced to 30 odd then the viewer will show more interest on it.

  • Ajay Vijayan on April 21, 2012, 6:05 GMT

    I was irresistible yesterday to watch what would happen between Australia and West Indies. Had the rain gods not intervened that would have been a cracker of the match. And I don't even bother to know the score cards let yet Results itself of IPL matches. The Test and ODI's shows the genuineness, where as for the IPL its all of artificiality. I get awkward the pre-post match sessions along with the matches of IPL.

  • shakir on April 21, 2012, 5:16 GMT

    i am an ardent cricket fan and i get sick of watching the several ads over after over

  • Suryaprakash on April 21, 2012, 3:05 GMT

    Why is SetMax showing only Sony channel related ads during the 150 seconds timeout? Is it short of ads? Have people moved out of IPL? Or have companies moved on? My personal experience is stadium is a family experience. on TV, it is interesting only to watch your team matches (RCB for Bangalore). TV viewership is down from IPL 1 to IPL V, some of my die hard cricket friends view IPL as destructive to the country and are also not watching. I am still watching, Gayle's chikni chameli sixers are worth watching. But if Gayle is out, and RCB is downhill, the tube is quickly taken over by cartoon channels

  • Sai on April 21, 2012, 2:50 GMT

    On which channel are you watching it dude? In MaX HD I watch the game with 0 ads. And the best part? Replays of the previus day's games over and over again till you get bored!

  • Shivakumar Gopalakrishnan on April 20, 2012, 23:04 GMT

    At last someone else is also talking about this. Advertising brings revenue yes, but too much advertisement does not bring joy the the consumer. Cricket programs especially in India have been a very sorry state. instead of the current 2.5 minute time-out; we can follow the policy of NBA or NFL where we have a break of 1.5 minutes every 5 overs these 1.5 minutes will be devoted to commercials & the in between overs will be shown properly without an ad. This could drive the slots at a premium and ensure quality both for the viewer and the commercial aspect of the game The important point is someone listening to the consumers or do they say; what the heck who cares

  • SunnG on April 20, 2012, 20:11 GMT

    Oh yeah! Don't forget those failed actors and actresses along with not-so-successful Cricketers and hard-to-bare self-proclaimed cricket pundits, filling in the void of what ever remains. Yes, I am talking about the in-studio stupidity. Can these guys ever let go of this stupidity?

    It was miserable to hear the host of the show going on about Ajay Jadeja's smile and Sanjay endorsing how beautiful a smile Jadeja has!!! Aaaarrrggghhh! Puked my guts right away after that manly lovefest. LoL.

  • John Rajkumar on April 20, 2012, 17:12 GMT

    The IPL brand in India is positioned by its TV production. If the producers of said TV production feel that a comedian, a band, and dancers have a part to play in the build up to an IPL game then they are the wrong producers. The cricket should get and keep people interested, if it is not, then the quality of cricket should be addressed not the silly Bollywood histrionics.

  • psw on April 20, 2012, 16:37 GMT

    I couldn't agree with u more they have the time for their timeouts but they can't even show us the full amount of sixes hit in a match, i sooooo wanted to show my friend who missed kp's innings the 9 sixes especially the brutal ones against Mishra and all i got was 3 sixes. After such high octane matches i want them to properly discuss it let us bask in what we saw but no that doesn't happen

  • Tushar on April 20, 2012, 14:15 GMT

    Annoying commercials during the TV commentary! The IPL broadcast in HD is really amazing and love every bit of it. However, the commercialization of the sport has led to some really ugly advertisements when some one hits a four, a six, takes a nice catch or makes a good fielding attempt. The use of the phrase, "city moment of success" and "karbon kamal catch" is very very irritating. It becomes unbearable when they keep repeating these phrases in very short time. I know that the commentrators get paid for using these phrases but it sounds like pure greed and no care for how the viewers feel about it. Please get rid of such ridiculousness and let the viewers enjoy the game.

  • Sam on April 20, 2012, 13:33 GMT

    Personally I find the Cheerleaders offensive. I think it degrades women and caters to the male-dominated viewership of cricket. I would guess this may even turn off potential female viewers, because the whole show seems to be targeted towards a male audience.

  • Bob on April 20, 2012, 13:03 GMT

    I just think that TV audiences are burned out on the glut of 20/20 cricket. It's a version of the game which has been over-exploited. Audiences are burned out on it.

    It doesn't help that so much of the action that takes place at a 20/20 match is off the field which is great if you are at the stadium but does nothing for TV viewers.

  • Raju on April 20, 2012, 12:39 GMT

    On double-match days, maybe the rights to the two matches should be sold to different channels? That will allow for more pre- and post-game analysis.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • Raju on April 20, 2012, 12:39 GMT

    On double-match days, maybe the rights to the two matches should be sold to different channels? That will allow for more pre- and post-game analysis.

  • Bob on April 20, 2012, 13:03 GMT

    I just think that TV audiences are burned out on the glut of 20/20 cricket. It's a version of the game which has been over-exploited. Audiences are burned out on it.

    It doesn't help that so much of the action that takes place at a 20/20 match is off the field which is great if you are at the stadium but does nothing for TV viewers.

  • Sam on April 20, 2012, 13:33 GMT

    Personally I find the Cheerleaders offensive. I think it degrades women and caters to the male-dominated viewership of cricket. I would guess this may even turn off potential female viewers, because the whole show seems to be targeted towards a male audience.

  • Tushar on April 20, 2012, 14:15 GMT

    Annoying commercials during the TV commentary! The IPL broadcast in HD is really amazing and love every bit of it. However, the commercialization of the sport has led to some really ugly advertisements when some one hits a four, a six, takes a nice catch or makes a good fielding attempt. The use of the phrase, "city moment of success" and "karbon kamal catch" is very very irritating. It becomes unbearable when they keep repeating these phrases in very short time. I know that the commentrators get paid for using these phrases but it sounds like pure greed and no care for how the viewers feel about it. Please get rid of such ridiculousness and let the viewers enjoy the game.

  • psw on April 20, 2012, 16:37 GMT

    I couldn't agree with u more they have the time for their timeouts but they can't even show us the full amount of sixes hit in a match, i sooooo wanted to show my friend who missed kp's innings the 9 sixes especially the brutal ones against Mishra and all i got was 3 sixes. After such high octane matches i want them to properly discuss it let us bask in what we saw but no that doesn't happen

  • John Rajkumar on April 20, 2012, 17:12 GMT

    The IPL brand in India is positioned by its TV production. If the producers of said TV production feel that a comedian, a band, and dancers have a part to play in the build up to an IPL game then they are the wrong producers. The cricket should get and keep people interested, if it is not, then the quality of cricket should be addressed not the silly Bollywood histrionics.

  • SunnG on April 20, 2012, 20:11 GMT

    Oh yeah! Don't forget those failed actors and actresses along with not-so-successful Cricketers and hard-to-bare self-proclaimed cricket pundits, filling in the void of what ever remains. Yes, I am talking about the in-studio stupidity. Can these guys ever let go of this stupidity?

    It was miserable to hear the host of the show going on about Ajay Jadeja's smile and Sanjay endorsing how beautiful a smile Jadeja has!!! Aaaarrrggghhh! Puked my guts right away after that manly lovefest. LoL.

  • Shivakumar Gopalakrishnan on April 20, 2012, 23:04 GMT

    At last someone else is also talking about this. Advertising brings revenue yes, but too much advertisement does not bring joy the the consumer. Cricket programs especially in India have been a very sorry state. instead of the current 2.5 minute time-out; we can follow the policy of NBA or NFL where we have a break of 1.5 minutes every 5 overs these 1.5 minutes will be devoted to commercials & the in between overs will be shown properly without an ad. This could drive the slots at a premium and ensure quality both for the viewer and the commercial aspect of the game The important point is someone listening to the consumers or do they say; what the heck who cares

  • Sai on April 21, 2012, 2:50 GMT

    On which channel are you watching it dude? In MaX HD I watch the game with 0 ads. And the best part? Replays of the previus day's games over and over again till you get bored!

  • Suryaprakash on April 21, 2012, 3:05 GMT

    Why is SetMax showing only Sony channel related ads during the 150 seconds timeout? Is it short of ads? Have people moved out of IPL? Or have companies moved on? My personal experience is stadium is a family experience. on TV, it is interesting only to watch your team matches (RCB for Bangalore). TV viewership is down from IPL 1 to IPL V, some of my die hard cricket friends view IPL as destructive to the country and are also not watching. I am still watching, Gayle's chikni chameli sixers are worth watching. But if Gayle is out, and RCB is downhill, the tube is quickly taken over by cartoon channels