Star Sports and Disney+ Hotstar, the media rights holders of the Sri Lanka tour of India 2023, along with the on-ground advertising rights holders are struggling to generate revenue for Men in Blue’s first bilateral series of 2023. One of the potential reasons for the lack of advertisers could be the absence of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli from the T20I series against Sri Lanka.
The first month of the year is the most difficult for live cricket as the majority of advertisers and their agencies are off to a holiday in the last week of December due to Christmas and New Year. The previous year was also quite difficult due to the economic slowdown and dryness in funding for startups thereby plummeting spending from startups. Some of the high-profile sponsorship ties were concluded in 2022 even before completing the duration of the association. Paytm requested the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to transfer its home series title rights to Mastercard. Tata also replaced Vivo as the title sponsor of the Indian Premier League (IPL). According to reports, BYJU’s is also set to conclude its partnership with the BCCI. In the most recent development, MPL was also replaced by Killer Jeans as the new jersey and merchandise rights holder of the Indian cricket team.
Traditional advertisers have also gone on the back foot due to the sky-high advertising rates in live cricket, instead, they have moved their focus to entertainment, movies and news genre both on TV and digital.
Broadcasters spending a fortune for acquiring rights for sports properties has forced them to increase ad rates, due to which they are also missing out on potential advertisers whose advertising is P&L driven.
The Indian team’s last bilateral series of 2022 (against Bangladesh) was sold out due to fair pricing in live cricket. ITW, who was the rights holder, saw 100% sell-out in ODIs which is a relatively new concept. Monetisation prolongs to be a difficult task in bilateral series. The media rights deal between BCCI and Star Sports will end in 2023 and the difficult task of acquiring advertisers for bilateral series will be taken into consideration during the auction.
The year 2022 saw some interesting media rights acquisitions as Sony renewed with England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), Disney Star bagged Cricket Australia (CA) rights and Viacom18 acquired multi-year rights to Cricket South Africa (CSA). All the aforementioned broadcasters have and will shed an average of 100cr+ per match if only India’s fixtures have been taken into consideration. This per-match costing saw an increase of around 65% from the ongoing BCCI media rights deal, which in itself has been consistently loss-making for Disney. It will be interesting to witness how broadcasters come up with an alternate plan to recover their lucrative rights costs or whether they are counting on the growth of digital subscriptions and whether that will become a reality in the upcoming few years.