| 02 Dec 2023
IPL gets the moolah in for FM radio

MUMBAI: FM radio has inadvertently turned out to be one of the key beneficiaries of the ongoing IPL tournament, in terms of advertising revenues.

The moolah is pouring in via SMS driven revenue from on air contests as well as spots. Many regional players, tied up officially with teams from their states, are whipping up a frenzy of loyalty through contests and getting listeners to participate in contests that entice with tickets to South Africa and other goodies.

Chennai based Hello FM registered 5,76,000 callers in a day for their on air contest �Solli Adi' that launched last week. Being an IVRS number, the station has an arrangement with a telecom operator for a percentage based revenue share.

Even the ball updates that happen with alarming regularity across stations (practically once every five minutes) boast a list of presenting sponsors. All this, at no cost - since all the RJs are doing is keeping a tab on the live match via television and relaying the scores to listeners on the move.

Big FM, which is the official partner for Deccan chargers and Punjab Kings XI, have Maruti A-star, Perfetti as the associate sponsors and Centre Fresh for score updates. Says Big FM VP marketing Anand Chakravarthy, It is difficult to say that IPL has contributed to our revenues as we are still getting sponsors on board. The rate card remains the same but it depends on what slot the client is buying as title sponsorship comes with a premium attached to it....

Hello FM national sales head Bharath Vishwanath insists, There are premium charges in terms of package but we don't charge premium on the 10 second slot....

The south market has seen some clients who weren't interested in radio advertising earlier turning to the medium. We have clients who don't normally advertise on radio coming on board as advertisers. Our IPL coverage is sponsored by Dabur Glucouse D and co-sponsored by REBI (the one-stop property shop), Daily Thanthi and Doohm (digital out of Home media),... adds Vishwanath.

For an average station, the package for presenting sponsorship is around Rs 3.5 to four million and associate sponsorship for Rs 2.5 million. With the premium package of 75 per cent, stations are giving 25 per cent free FCT to the advertisers.

Radio City ad sales head Ashit Kukian agrees that some of the packages offered by radio players are going at a premium, thanks to these advantages. Radio City that has tied up with Primetime Kagiso as the official radio associates is reaping the benefits of the association through pitch reports, celebrity bytes and a piece of local action in SA, and is customising packages for advertisers accordingly.

Red FM national marketing and Mumbai station head Anuj Singh insists that monetisation of the content is merely a byproduct of the 'listener driven benefit' that the station is targeting. As official partners of the Mumbai Indians, Red FM has sent its team with star RJ Malishka to SA, has Sachin Tendulkar speaking exclusively to her and is offering a chance to listeners to do likewise. Singh admits that there is a lot of traction on radio thanks to the cost and reach factors, and also due to the buzz that radio has managed to weave around the event. "The elections and the IPL put together should definitely spell a good quarter for the industry," he predicts.

Talking about the profile of advertisers, Chakravarthy says, The profile of advertisers is men oriented brands and the ones targeting the youth. As the series is happening in South Africa, a lot of opportunities are also lost. But we are exploiting the brand building process by RJ presences at the local screenings.

This, say media planners, is being specially attractive to cost conscious advertisers who cannot afford the one television channel that is cashing in on IPL. Consequently, private FM radio has emerged as the key medium that has sent its teams to south Africa to cover the event, is offering merchandise as well as tickets as prizes to listeners - covering the event in a 360 degree fashion.

Stations with pan India networks have already managed to monetise from the IPL fervour, but smaller groups are still in the process. The IPL momentum is still building and it will take some time for clients to hook on to radio for advertising, they say. The industry is looking forward to about 20-40 per cent increase in revenues from the IPL phenomenon this year. The ball updates on Mirchi, City and Red are awash with sponsors ranging from Sun DTH, Varmora Tiles, Bajaj Fans, Dish TV, Chopra's educational conglomerate, Cosmos Bank, BNP housing finance, Whirlpool and Lifestyle.

With no IPL team from Kerala, however, radio stations haven't benefited from the IPL fever. Radio in Kerala hasn't gained from IPL in terms of sponsorship but we are working on IPL oriented activities. More than revenues for the stations it is a listener interface opportunity for radio stations,... says Club FM COO George Sebastian.

Monies for small players

Smaller stations with limited networks have also been able to milk revenues from the IPL series. BAG Infotainment's Dhamaal 24 which has stations in Ranchi, Ahmednagar, Dhule, Hissar, Jabalpur, Jalgoan, Muzzafarpur, Patiala, Shimla and Karnal flagged off their own series- Dhaamal Cricket Championship (DCC). Dhaamal 24 National programming head Anil Kapoor says, We have created a replica of the IPL series and making listeners of stations compete with each other....

This initiative has got the station quite a lot of advertisers on board. Corporate clients like Aircel have sponsored two teams and Bajaj has sponsored four teams. Apart from the corporate ones, we have many local retailers sponsoring the local teams.... Dhamaal 24 already has 3000-4000 listeners registered for the DCC matches, he says. After the inventory was hit by recession in the last quarter, IPL bought respite to smaller stations."

Although IPL has helped Tomato FM (Kolhapur, Sangli in Maharashtra) to gain advertisers, Tomato FM CEO Naval Toshniwal insists it hasn't added on too much to their bottom line. He says, More than IPL, it was the political advertisements which bought us revenues, it contributed more than 50 per cent of our inventory. For IPL, we are giving updates on air and have corporate advertisers like Toyota and independent retailers from Kolhapur sponsoring the slots....

Branding opportunity

There is another school of thought which says the IPL is a visual feast and radio being an audio medium cannot excite many listeners. Elaborates radio consultant Sunil Kumar, Instead of earning, radio stations are spending money and it an opportunity for radio stations to be associated with teams and gain visibility. It is too big an opportunity for radio stations to brand themselves in a convenient way in times of recession....

Agrees Fever's Delhi station head Neeraj Chaturvedi, Sports is a long term investment for us and being a youth station, we would be focusing on IPL coverage. We would be sending a team of 11 people to SA to witness the match at our own cost. It helps us with branding, visibility and connecting with the listeners....

IPL is one of the opportunities which contributes to revenues of radio stations like elections and other seasonal spikes. It is dangerous to be dependent on a single spike but IPL gives the brands a reason to invest more on radio....