Saturday, June 28, 2008

IPL 2008 -A Businessman's Guide

Q .Why was the ICL not as successful as the IPL?
The ICL is owned by Subash Chandra who owns the ZEE Network which is a media conglomerate.. Zee and IL &FS put together a corpus of Rs 100 crore for this event.
The Indian Cricket League started in November 2007 with 6 teams playing the league in Panchkula, Chandigarh. It then had a 50 over edition in January 2008 which was played at Mayajaal ground in Chennai. The latest edition was in March 2008 which saw 8 teams playing in Hyderabd and Gurgaon. Apart from league teams there are also ‘national teams’ playing against each other. Though the format is similar and the game is the same, the ICL has not generated as much revenue and interest for a variety of reasons:
Players make or break this game and having access to the best in the business is key to attracting viewers and fans. ICL therefore upped the ante and paid Rs 30 to Rs 60 lakhs to 60 “no –namers” or domestic players at a total cost of nearly Rs 30 crores. It then signed up “brand players” for almost Rs 3 crores per head and for almost 10 such players had to put up another Rs 30 crores. The total spend of Rs 60 crores on players, did not get them the talent they really wanted with a lot of players opting out after accepting.
ICL is not recognized by the BCCI and ICC. Players of this league were blacklisted by the BCCI, resulting in litigation on grounds of unfair trade practices. As a result, most of the talent in the country have been out of the ICL footprint and play in the IPL which is a competitor to the ICL, as it turns out. BCCI also raised players fees by 40% to counter the ICL challenge of a fee of Rs 36,000 per match .
The ICL has a lot of players from overseas who have not been blacklisted by their national cricket authorities and therefore continue to play in ICC matches. However, IPL has confirmed that it will not allow any ICL player from any overseas Board to compete in the Champions League which it to be held in September among the top leagues of various countries. The strength of the ICL, which has been international players of repute, will now be threatened.
ICL is hampered by the cricket calendar. The first season of the ICL was cannibalized by the Indo- Australian series and the Harbajhan vs Symonds controversy actually generated interest in the series and drove viewer ship and coverage in media. It is likely that the next season, scheduled to be held in the UAE may be affected by the Champions League which is scheduled around the same time. While IPL had the summer school vacation, ICL has not been able to get the prime calendar spots.
ICL has spent nearly Rs 20 crores in promoting the event but has not got the sustained hype and interest that the IPL has managed. The TRP ratings of the ICL have been around 1 to 1.5 range . While the IPL has been on the front page much before the league began and has franchisees who by themselves have raised the eye ball count and the stickiness factor, ICL has had no stars who have been able to do it for them save for Kapil Dev, who heads the League. The ICL has also not been able to capitalise on its foreign players in the media sweepstakes.
Sponsors therefore have been low profile and include the title sponsor Edelweiss Capital, the Mumbai ICL team sponsor Dabur Glucose, Bharat Student .com which the sponsor of the Hyderabad team and Pioneer Urban which sponsors the Delhi team.
.Gate revenues are not high in the League since the best venues were blocked by the BCCI. However, the ICL still has access to the Eden Gardens and with help from the Railways (Minister L.P. Yadav blessing the event) they have reasonably good venues. Local advertising has been limited and with the absence of local ‘brand’ players, attendance has been lukewarm.
The ICL needs to lobby with international bodies and using the UAE as a launch pad may work out, given that the in the past the Sharjah Cup was a success. Some savvy PR ideas would help keep the brand alive and salient and generate the interest in the event. Consumer contests and cross promotions with high TRP programs in its bouquet could help ICL. Movies on cricket are awaiting releases and a collaboration cannot revenues and definitely will drive gate collections in the UAE.



Mr. Vinod Natesan, Proprietor of Mayan Consultants International, is a post graduate of the Institute of Rural Management Anand. In the 19 years in the industry, he has been associated as a marketing consultant with the World Bank and NDDB, has serviced ITC, Procter & Gamble Unilever and Telco accounts while working for FCB, Lowe and Leo Burnett. He headed the Mumbai branch of PSL McCann Erickson, winning numerous creative awards like the Clio for work done on the Guestline Hotels and the Mahindra brands. In 2000, he joined, JWT as Assoc Vice President & Strategy Planning Director on the De Beers account and was part of the team that won the Effies and the Subash Ghoshal trophy for the Nakshatra launch. In 2002, he shifted to the Middle East and has been handling marketing assignments with retail groups like the Landmark Group, with Tourism promotion bodies in Tunisia and with tourism related authorities in Kerala. His last stint was with the Emirate of Ras al Khaimah, where he set up the Tourism Office and the Media City and left it as the Head of Operations, RAK Investment Authority. He has also been a visiting faculty in most of the management institutes in Mumbai since 1996.


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