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disney: Disney, Viacom struggle to close IPL ad deals

Ad deals for the Indian Premier League (IPL) are taking a lot longer to close, as Disney Star and Reliance Industries-backed Viacom18 are locked in an intense competition to woo advertisers who, spoilt for choice, have adopted a cautious stance this year.

According to insiders involved in the deals, Disney Star and Viacom18 have closed some sponsorship deals after tough negotiations, but a considerable amount of ad inventory is still unsold as advertisers weigh their options on whether to go with TV or digital.

Disney Star, which held both the TV and digital rights till 2022, had sold out 80-90% of its TV and digital ad inventory almost 3-4 weeks before the IPL 2022 kicked off.

From this year, Disney Star has the rights only for TV, as Viacom18 holds the digital rights. With a little over two weeks left for the start of IPL 2023, the two are still involved in hectic negotiations with clients, with each outdoing the other in offering a sweeter deal to the advertisers, say industry sources.

“This year, the negotiations over ad deals are getting stretched since advertisers are weighing their options between TV and digital. Besides, the ad market is not looking very bullish, and a lot of consumer tech brands that spent hundreds of crores on the IPL last year are missing from the scene,” said a senior ad sales executive with a leading media company.

Besides these factors, said Innocean Worldwide Communications Group director Sridhar Balasubramanian, the advertising investment required to participate in the IPL is substantial. But he feels the usual suspects would continue to advertise in the IPL.

A top executive with a leading media buying firm said the sponsorship outlays on TV are likely to be less than last year due to the drop in viewership. “Last year, they offered bonus ad spots to advertisers, but the gap still remained due to the viewership drop,” the official said.The executive added that Disney Star is seeking outlays of ₹150-160 crore from co-presenting sponsors and considerable amount of ad inventory is still unsold as advertisers weigh their options on whether to go with TV or digital. At Viacom18, the outlays required are as low as ₹5-10 crore and ₹70-100 crore for big sponsors. “A lot of deals are currently in advanced stages of closure. The next 10 days will be crucial for both Disney and Viacom,” the executive stated.

Disney and Viacom18 responses remained unanswered till press time Sunday.

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