MEC study predicts a marginal 2.5% increase in league rating for IPL5

Mumbai: MEC, a leading media buying and planning agency and a founding partner of GroupM, announced their fourth edition of “MEC IPL TV Rating Estimation Study” powered by Meritus Analytics India Pvt. Ltd., a WPP company. The study has now come to be the definitive guide for all marketers and advertisers, as far as the Indian Premier League is concerned.

The IPL is, without doubt, the country’s most celebrated cricket event and perforce the most popular content on TV. The League is a critical variable to be considered in every marketing plan – regardless of advertisers choosing to invest in it or otherwise. This makes the MEC IPL study that much more valuable to the industry. Estimating IPL’s TV ratings involves a combination of primary consumer research and strategic factor modeling. The research was carried out in 9 cities that have IPL teams with a sample size of 100 respondents per city -men and women, 15 years+, SEC ABC. The consumer research helped in assessing ground realities such as overall interest in IPL Season 5, likelihood to watch IPL on television and team and player popularity. Not surprisingly, the three key factors that will impact the TV ratings are team popularity, time of the match and day of the week.

Sharing her views on the study Shubha George, Chief Operating Officer, South Asia MEC said, “MEC’s IPL estimation has become an industry benchmark. Having started this pioneering piece in IPL season 2, we at MEC have over the years built on the methodology for the estimation and have expertise that can well be applied for other such TV events. Our TV viewership estimation has helped our clients plan their investments in this period well informed. Industry best practice initiatives such as this reverberates MEC’s mantra of Active Engagement and provides actionable consumer insights that help design campaigns truly engage brands with its consumers.”

Viewership pattern: Despite the intense speculation around the event within the industry, IPL still seems to hold charm for the viewer. Viewership is expected to stabilize at lower levels than the peaks of early seasons. After the 29% drop in ratings in IPL4, the average league rating for IPL5 is estimated to be at 3.8%, a marginal 2.5% increase from the last season. Only 16% of the viewers claim to be weary due to declining interest over the seasons and only 12% said that they would spend lesser time watching IPL this season.

Team support: IPL’s second and third seasons had seen an almost equitable support across all teams. Affinity in season five has significantly moved towards Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings with a cumulative support of 45%. Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kolkata Knight Riders follow in support with 12% and 11% each. Home team and player popularity are the key stated reasons to support a team. The most loyal fan bases are in Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai, irrespective of their teams’ performance. The gap between the top and the bottom teams has further widened with the bottom team getting only 10% of the support versus the top team in this season. These variations in team popularity are likely to skew TV ratings. Though Virat Kohli has seen a surge in popularity, Sachin Tendulkar and MS Dhoni remain the top players.

Online viewing: 38% claimed to have watched it online last year – out of which 22% claimed to have watched the online streaming at home. Clearly, for many viewers it was replacing the television at home. Over time we may see eyeballs getting split between television and online leading to drop in IPL TV ratings.

Brand recall: Nokia, Pepsi and Coke are the only brands to maintain going -in recall vis-a-vis the previous season. Interestingly Nokia’s association is primarily with KKR and yet the brand is the most associated with IPL. DLF, the title sponsors are ranked 7th in unaided recall.

On the subject of brand recall scores, T Gangadhar, Managing Director MEC India, said, “Clearly, not all brands seem to have used their sponsorship entitlements smartly. For a disproportionate return on investment, sponsorships need to be given wings via activation. Mere visibility can help a brand only to a limited extent”.

Elaborating on the techniques used to arrive at this study, Mr. Sunder Muthuraman, Managing Partner, Meritus Analytics, commented, “Memory is analogues to factors that will impact the outcome of a situation. If one knows the factors (memory) well, forecasting the outcome is only a matter of deduction (technique). The most important differentiator of the MEC IPL TV Rating Estimation Study is how ‘memory’ and ‘deduction’ have been brought to play by MEC and Meritus!”

MEC’s large sample customer survey that captures the ‘Memory’ of the viewers, their favourite team, is a key factor in the forecast. The large list of factors tested in the past and the new ones that have come along the way in four rounds of forecasts is the other ‘Memory’.
The second most important factor is the Meritus expertise in various forecasting methods ranging from the simple ARIMA models to the more complex State-Space and Bayesian approaches and build learning forecasting models.

Sunder Muthuraman, further added “MEC and Meritus’ current forecast model suggests that a popular team will have an exponential ability to increase channel share (i.e. share among existing TV viewers), but has a smaller impact on PUT (people using TV, i.e. in bringing in new TV viewers when they are not already viewing TV). This is very different from the relationships we noticed in our first forecast where the popularity of the team had similar impact on both channel share and PUT. We have to put to good use our ‘memory’ and ‘technique’ to identify this changing reality on viewer behavior towards IPL and build it into our forecast model!”

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