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700 million people may watch IPL matches



Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, August 27: An estimated 700 million cricket fans are expected to watch the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League’s (IPL) 13th tournament that will be played in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from next month. Analysts say more people will watch this year’s IPL than in the past.

Due to India-wide lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the IPL matches will be played in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah in stadia that may be only filled only partially during September 19-November 10. The cash-rich IPL is owned by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

“Ratings will be good. This will be the biggest IPL ever,” declares Vinit Karnik, business head for entertainment, sports and live events, Group M, India’s largest media buying agency.

“Dream11 IPL will be the biggest platform available for marketers during this festive season. With matches beginning half-hour early (at 7:30 pm instead of 8 pm), fewer double headers (two matches a day) and stay-at-home fans anxiously waiting for their favourite cricket tournament, Dream11 IPL will be the most-watched season ever,” declares Gautam Thakar, CEO, Star Sports.

The estimated INR 180-billion Disney Star owns all media rights to the IPL in 2018-2022.

Over 462 million Indians watched IPL 2019. This includes out-of-home viewing at pubs, restaurants and so on, says the Broadcast Audience Research Council.

Based on the growth rate for the last four years and the pandemic-fuelled surge in TV viewership, this edition of the IPL could hit over 530 million viewers. That is just on TV. Disney Star also owns Disney+Hotstar, the second largest OTT in the country.

 IPL 2019 had seen a consolidated viewership of 613 million IPL 2020 should cross 700 million, analysts estimate.

 This is where the speculation begins. Over the two years since it has held the rights, Disney Star has done well on viewership, especially in Indian languages and also on revenue.

About a fourth of the IPL’s viewership comes from the Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Bangla audiences. From an estimated INR 15 billion in 2017, when Sony telecast its last IPL, revenues touched INR 30 billion in 2019.

 This year, if Star manages a revenue of INR 33-35 billion, it will have done a fantastic job, point out industry watchers. But it would still not be close to covering its annual outgo and running expenses on the IPL. In 2017, Star committed INR 163.47 billion spread over five years to the IPL “There has been no marquee live sports for a long time. So, at a philosophical level the Dream11 IPL signals a return of life to normalcy,” says Thakar.

 Add to that, pent-up demand. Many brands had held off spending in the last five months. On TV, fresh programming in July has already perked up the ad demand.

 Of the four major sports properties – IPL, Pro-Kabaddi League, Asia Cup and the T-20 World Cup — only one is happening. “In a market where sentiment is low, this (IPL) is a positive. For marketers, it’s a make or break moment in a bad year,” according to Shashi Sinha, CEO, IPL Mediabrands.

 IPL is usually held in April. Many of the advertising deals were signed in March. Some seasonal ones have stayed on board at roughly the same rate of INR 10-11 lakh per 10 seconds. This is a bit over last year’s rates, say buyers. Amazon, PhonePe have signed on and others are close to.

In April IPL has the field to itself. But, in September it will be fighting new seasons of blockbuster TV shows — Kaun Banega Crorepati and Bigg Boss. A late Diwali (November 14) means marketers might defer their spends to the second half of the IPL which ends on November 10. This would coincide with the festival bump. Or they might simply wait out for the next IPL in April 2021. “The advertiser mix and the purse size has changed (gone down),” agrees Karnik.

 The third challenge is how families in homes will enjoy the stadium feel with tech-enabled value addition and innovation. Look at what the Danish soccer league did,” says Karnik. In May, a Danish team’s fans took part in the game through a giant Zoom meeting.

Disney Star is contemplating something similar, say industry insiders. “Usually, the IPL is in eight cities and eight stadiums when played in India.

Now people from anywhere can join in on Zoom. They could do Hotstar watch-along parties or have say six giant LeD screens at the venue with 50 users per screen. In a 40-over match, that’s more than 12,000 users. A vast number of people can be part of the action,” says an analyst.

 And action is something Indians have been thirsting for.

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Nightlife is essential without hindrance to other tourists, residents and businesses – Diana Gamage




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Opposition threatens to move no-faith motion against Speaker over OSB



Speaker Abeywardena

By Saman Indrajith

Opposition and SJB leader Sajith Premnadasa told Parliament yesterday that the Online Safety Bill had been passed in violation of the law and unless remedial action was taken, a no-faith motion would be brought against Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena.

Premadasa said that Article 123(4) of the Constitution says, “Where any Bill, or the provision of any Bill, has been determined, or is deemed to have been determined, to be inconsistent with the Constitution, such Bill or such provision shall not be passed except in the manner stated in the determination of the Supreme Court.”

Premadasa said: “It is illegal to pass a Bill without adhering to this constitutional provision. There were nine instances where the government overlooked the Supreme Court determination on the Bill. The Speaker allowed that to happen despite our protests. The Justice Minister, too, has admitted that there are flaws in the Act. How could that happen? Rectify them immediately, or we will bring a no-confidence motion against the Speaker.”

Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said that even if the Supreme Court determined that a section or clause of a draft Bill was inconsistent with the Constitution, a Bill could be passed by Parliament. It could be done with either a two-thirds majority or two-thirds majority plus people’s approval from a referendum. A case cannot be filed against the way the Speaker or an MP behaved in this House as they have immunity. Former Speaker Anura Bandaranaike, too, has given a ruling on this issue and we still consider it as a precedent to be upheld. With regard to the Online Safety Bill, the Attorney General has instructed Public Security Minister Tiran Alles to incorporate some amendments as per the Supreme Court determination and to bring other recommended amendments in the form of a separate Amendment Bill. I was not a party to that discussion. This Amendment Bill was presented to the Cabinet and approval was granted and now is at the Legal Draftsman’s Department. Thereafter, it would be referred to the Cabinet again and with that approval we can have it here in this House for consideration,” the Minister said.

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