BY S VENKAT NARAYAN,
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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AG not bound by its recommendations, yet to receive report
PCoI on Easter Sunday attacks:
By Shamindra Ferdinando
Attorney General Dappula de Livera, PC is not bound by recommendations made by the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (P CoI) into the 2019 Easter Sunday carnage, or presidential directives in that regard, according to authoritative sources.
They said that the AG couldn’t under any circumstances initiate legal proceedings until he had received the full PCoI report.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa received the PCoI report on Feb 1. The President’s Office delivered a set of PCoI reports to Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena on Feb 23, a day after the report was presented to the cabinet of ministers. The Island raised the matter with relevant authorities in the wake of a section of the media reporting the PCoI recommending punitive measures against former President Maithripala Sirisena, Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando, IGP Pujitha Jayasundera, Chief of State Intelligence Senior DIG Nilantha Jayawardena, Chief of National Intelligence retired DIG Sisira Mendis and All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC) leader and Samagi Jana Balavegaya MP Rishad Bathiudeen et al over the Easter Sunday carnage.
Sources pointed out that due to the inordinate delay in sharing the PCoI report with the AG, the department hadn’t been able to take preliminary measures required to initiate the proceedings. Sources said that a team of officers would take at least six weeks or more to examine the report before tangible measures could be taken.
With the AG scheduled to retire on May 24, 2021, even if the AG Department received the P CoI it would be quite a tough task to initiate proceedings ahead of retirement, sources said. However, in terms of the 20th Amendment to the Constitution enacted in last October, both the AG and the IGP could receive extensions beyond 60 at the President’s discretion.
Dappula de Livera received an Acting appointment as the AG a week after the Easter Sunday carnage whereas his predecessor Jayantha Jayasuriya, PC, was elevated to Chief Justice.
Responding to another query, sources said that the Attorney General two weeks ago requested Secretary to the President for a copy of the P CoI. However, the AG was yet to receive one, sources said. In spite of the AG not receiving a P CoI copy, the AG had instructed the IGP to obtain a copy of the report when he requested the police to complete investigations into the Easter Sunday carnage. The AG issued specific instructions after having examined police files pertaining to the investigations.
The IGP, too, hadn’t received a copy so far though some sections of the report were in the public domain.
Agriculture Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage displayed at a live political programme on Derana a copy of the P CoI report he received at the cabinet meeting earlier in the day.
Sources said that the Attorney General’s Department couldn’t decide on a course of action in respect of the Easter carnage on the basis of a section of the report. In terms of the Commission of Inquiry Act (Section 24), the AG enjoyed significant powers/authority in respect of investigations; sources said adding that the Department urgently required both the P CoI report and police investigations report. The Attorney General’s Department has raised the delay in receiving a P CoI report amidst the Catholic Church attacking the government over the same issue.
Sources said that ministerial committee appointed to study the P CoI report couldn’t decide on how to proceed with the recommendations and the matter was entirely in the hands of the AG. Sources pointed out that the delay on the part of the government to release the report had received the attention of sections of the international media, including the New York Times. Public Security Minister retired Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera having met Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith at the Bishop’s House on Dec 8, 2020 said that the AG would get a copy of the P CoI report once the President received it. Minister Weerasekera said that the CID had handed over the relevant files after having completed investigations into eight blasts. Referring to the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) report on the Easter Sunday carnage, the former Navy Chief of Staff said that all such documents would have to be brought to one place and considered before initiating legal proceedings. Acknowledging that there could be delays, lawmaker Weerasekera said that on the instructions of the Attorney General a 12-member team of lawyers was working on the case. The minister vowed to expose the mastermind behind the Easter Sunday attacks. Investigations continued while some of those wanted were overseas, the minister said.
The minister acknowledged that the Attorney General couldn’t proceed without the P CoI report. Minister Weerasekera reiterated that once the President received the P CoI report, it would be sent to the Attorney General. The minister said that there were documents two to three feet high that needed scrutiny. The minister assured comprehensive investigation. The minister said that investigations pertaining to eight blasts had been completed and the reports handed over to the AG. However, the Attorney General had found shortcomings in those investigations.
JVP picks holes in PCoI report
By Saman Indrajith
The Presidential Commission of Inquiry on the Easter Sunday bombings had failed to identify the mastermind of , the JVP said yesterday.
Addressing the media at the party headquarters in Pelawatte, JVP Propaganda Secretary MP Vijitha Herath said that the PCoI report had levelled accusations against former President Maithripala Sirisena, former IGP and head of intelligence for their dereliction of duty, shirking of responsibilities and not taking action to prevent the attacks and negligence. There were reference to the causes of the terror attacks and actions to be taken to avoid such attacks and the influence of extremist organisations. “However, there is no mention of the mastermind of the attacks, the handlers of the attackers and those whose interests the carnage served. It is also not mentioned whether there has been any foreign or local organisation behind those attacks. As per the PCoI report the attack took place as a result of culmination of extremism.
“According to the PCoI the extremist activities were a result of the prevailing political situation then. The entire nation was waiting to see who was responsible and who masterminded those attacks. The PCoI has failed to identify the true culprits responsible for the terror attacks. The report says that the leader of the suicide cadres killed himself in the attacks and it was a puzzle. That means those who are actually responsible for the attacks are still at large. The report does not provide exact details of the sources of the attacks. The PCoI had sittings for one year and five months. It summoned various persons and got their statements but it has failed to shed any light on the terror attacks. Everybody knows that the top leaders of the government and heads of security and intelligence establishments failed in their duties. Ranil Wickremesinghe was the second in command and he too is bound by the responsibility but the PCoI report fails to identify him as one of the persons against whom legal action should be instituted. The PCoI has treated Wickremesinghe and former President Maithripala Sirisena differently. We are not telling that this report is a total failure but we cannot accept this as a complete report. The PCoI handed over its report to the President on Feb 1. After 23 days it was sent to Parliament. Now, a copy of the report is there in the parliamentary library for the perusal of MPs.”
Herath said that the PCoI did not have powers to take punitive action. “It only has powers to name those responsible and recommend action to be taken against those named.
TNA MP faults govt. for delay in answering questions, gets under Johnston’s skin
By Saman Indrajith
It did not matter whether the MPs were wearing pressed clothes or had travelled long distances when their questions were answered, Chief Government Whip Johnston Fernando told Parliament yesterday.
The Minister said so in response to a complaint by Batticaloa District TNA MP Shanikyan Rasamanikkam, who expressed his dismay for government taking time to answer a question raised by him.
MP Rasamanikkam has raised a question whether the Minister of Health is aware that the Dikkodai ospital, located in the Batticaloa district is not used for public purposes and the patients who visit the hospital for receiving services, face inconveniences, owing to that. On behalf of the Minister of Health, the Chief Government Whip and Minister asked for additional two weeks time.
MP Rasamanikkam: I come to parliament from Batticaloa, which is 422 km away. To attend Parliament we take great care including pressing our clothes. After taking so much trouble to come there braving the pandemic threat we do not get answers. There is a Health Minister and Acting Health Minister and neither of them is here. I saw Minister Dr Sudarshini Fernandopulle in the House this morning. She too has gone out. I travel more than 800 km. We could attend to many other problems. It is because the government does not give answers we are conducting protest marches, but when we do so we are hauled up before courts.
Chief Government Whip Minister Johnston Fernando: Every MP comes here wearing pressed clothes. But that has nothing to do with questions and answers here. I have been requested by the subject minister to ask for two weeks’ time. The MPs have a right to ask questions and in the same way the ministers have the right to ask for time. On the other hand, whether you cover 400 km to reach parliament does not matter. The majority of MPs travel 200 to 250 kilometers to come to Parliament. It is for that purpose they contest elections and get elected. Once elected the distance is not an issue you have to come to Parliament. The government has answered all your questions. This is the first time the Minister has asked for additional time. It is unfair for you to level charges. A more responsible conduct is expected of you as an upcoming political leader.