Viacom18, the digital rights holder of Indian Premier League, expects to achieve break-even earlier than planned, on the back of strong viewership numbers and ad sale revenues. The company, which is showcasing IPL on JioCinema for free, bagged the digital rights for a whopping ₹23,758 crore from the BCCI for the 2023-27 cycle.

Responding to a query on ad sales revenues, Viacom18 Sports CEO Anil Jayaraj told businessline: “While we look at metrics from a five-year perspective, we are quite pleased with how our revenues will be. There are projections for next year and next to next year. But all I can say, this year has been better than planned. Hence, if the same projection holds, we should be able to break-even earlier than planned.”

“We already have 23 sponsors and we are going to add a couple of more. This is the highest ever for any sporting event in the country across media, whether its TV or digital. Also, a record number of advertisers have come on digital for IPL,” he added.

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This season’s IPL is being held amid factors such as macro-economic challenges and the funding winter, impacting ad spends of some brands and categories compared to previous seasons.

“While the macroeconomic conditions are challenging, this is also an opportunity for advertisers to make an active choice to see where their investments will actually make greater sense. Due to its addressable nature and accurate measurements, digital has actually managed to hold its own. This will be the first IPL when television is going to trail digital. So digital is going to be significantly bigger than television in terms of revenue,” Jayaraj added.

JioCinema has been streaming IPL in 12 languages, with several firsts such as cricket commentary in Bhojpuri and Punjabi. In the recent CSK versus RCB match, JioCinema set a new record by clocking concurrent viewership of 2.4 crore. Concurrent viewership is the number of viewers that were watching the match stream at the same time.

Also read: CSK-RR match on Wednesday touched concurrent viewership of 2.2 crore, says JioCinema

“If one looks at any metric, whether it’s the number of users viewing the stream on a per match basis or the amount of time that each viewer is spending on the platform, all of them have been spectacular. So whatever we had set out to achieve in terms of viewership numbers, it’s very much on target. It is also testament to the fact that the coverage has been great , because every user is spending nearly 60 minutes on the platform, which is huge,” explained Jayaraj.

Besides FIFA and IPL, Viacom18 has been working aggressively to secure rights to build a diversified portfolio of sporting events including MotoGP, LaLiga and NBA among others.

“Our key focus is on increasing consumption and increasing the size of the pie. The total amount of watch time for sports in India needs to grow much faster, if it has to be competitive with other parts of the world. So,  will continue to participate in the acquisition of sports properties. And do it in a way that helps our business scale up rapidly,” said Jayaraj.