Photo Credit: ISL Media Twitter (https://twitter.com/IndSuperLeague/status/1329803845510201344/photo/1)
ISL: Subdued advertising response a possibility this season
The league may receive lower advertisement as it becomes a closed-door affair this season.
The Global COVID-19 pandemic has hit football markets across the globe and even Indian Super League may not be spared from this financial crisis that has affected all.
A league that since its inception, in 2014, has been subject to heavy brand investment both on-field and on-air, may face a subdued response this season.
The league is set to begin from November 20th and will be completely a closed-door affair this time around, being played only in a protective bubble, in three venues in Goa.
Star India, the official broadcaster of the league, is expected to earn around Rs. 200 crores from advertisement revenues, which without a doubt, will mostly be on-air on Star Sports, and Disney+ Hotstar, its online premium streaming platform.
The advertisers’ approach to the league is different as they target local audiences and specific sets of people, which will come to standstill as the season will be played behind closed doors.
"Most brands tend to associate with ISL for three to five years executing surround activity across on‐ground, in-stadia, and on‐air promotions. It helps build a strong connection with their target consumer base, especially in local markets which tend to have loyal football fans. Therefore, this edition would be tough for ISL, given matches will be played behind closed doors, limiting the scope of promotions. I expect a subdued response from brands though they will continue to be committed to the league," said Navin Khemka, chief executive for South Asia, Mediacom, as quoted by Mint.
Though the fall is expected, the advertising response has not been any less encouraging. Hero MotoCorp, the chief sponsors of the league extended their deal for three more years. E-learning platform and Indian cricket team shirt sponsor, BYJU'S, Online fantasy sports platform Dream11, and Ayurvedic Brand Himalaya have joined in as sponsors.
JSW, TVS Tyres, Kia Motors, Havells, and Lloyd are among some of the other sponsors who have been associated with the league, as the Indian top-flight has exclusively earned fans in regions like West Bengal, Kerala, North East and Goa, which the brands target.
Mumbai City FC on Thursday signed a new global partnership with Midea, which is one of the largest home appliances and air-treatment manufacturers. Midea will feature on the sleeves of the Islanders' jersey this season.
“We are delighted to be partnering with such a fantastic global brand. Midea’s ambition to grow in India has been impressive and we share their passion and commitment to develop and grow. We look forward to a successful season together,” said Bimal Parekh, co-owner of the club.
Pranab Mohanty, vice-president of Midea India region, said, “Building on Midea’s collaborations with international football clubs, we are thrilled with our partnership with Mumbai City FC which will deepen the positive impact we are able to make in communities across India. Our association with football is a natural fit as it has a deep-rooted connect with our target audience in India and will help in enhancing Midea’s brand visibility, target audience reaches and will create new avenues of collaboration for success.”
ISL 2019-20 had recorded a 51 percent growth in viewership. The tournament opener between Kerala Blasters FC and ATK saw the viewership double as compared to the previous season.
“At the end of the season, the league recorded a 51 percent jump in viewership among the urban affluent sports savvy audience of M15+AB Urban as per BARC’s latest report,” the ISL had said in a press release.
To engage fans this season from home itself, ISL will introduce 'fan walls' that will show fans cheering for the teams from home, among other activities to engage viewers.
“Hopefully, ISL will show better viewership numbers than last season given that people are still largely restricted to their homes and there’s no clash with any other major sports tournament,” said Tuhin Mishra, managing director and co-founder of Baseline Ventures.