Telcos VAS earnings rise 15 percent on IPL

Source: The Economic Times | View Print Article

Some Cos Even Expect 3-Fold Jump in Revenues From IPL

Amit Sharma, NEW DELHI

INDIAN Premier League has bolstered mobile VAS revenues. Telecom operators and value-added services providers are laughing all the way to the banks with the growing popularity of IPL content. And, it’s just fourteen days into the 45-day tourney.

“Telecom companies and VAS content providers are going to see a rise of up to 15% in their revenues this month because of the IPL. A major part of this will come through person-to-person SMS or text messaging,” reveals Rajiv Hiranandani, CEO Mobile2win, the mobile VAS company that has tied up with SET Max, the event’s official broadcaster. Currently, industry-wide VAS revenues stand at around Rs 500-600-crore per month. A 15% IPL-led jump would translate into Rs 75-90-crore of additional revenues.

“The SMS traffic generated by the league is fantastic. We are getting 40 to 50 thousand responses every day, a figure that we expect to reach 1.5 to 2 lacs in the next 10-12 days,” adds Hiranandani. Bharti Airtel declined to comment on ET’s query on IPL’s impact on its VAS revenues. Vodafone, IPL’s official telecom partner, was unavailable for comment.

Apart from the regular score updates, there are wallpapers, screensavers, photos, ringtones of team anthems et al, priced anywhere between Rs 3 to Rs 15 per download. Says Manoj Dawane, CEO People Infocom, the company that owns Mauj,com; “The event has built up good traffic that is revenues. We are seeing a 20 per cent increase in revenues in the sports and general entertainment VAS services.”

But is it a temporary burst in revenues that will die down post the season? Anuj Kumar, Executive Director, South Asia, Affle, thinks otherwise. “I think that the demand will persist even post the event and till such time, we will continue providing IPL-related content.” Affle is the mobile company through which IPL is advertising to Airtel, the country’s largest mobile operator, subscribers.

Mukul Khanna, Vice President, Marketing, Spice Telecom chooses to put the phenomenon matter-of-factly. “Whenever there is a cricket match, it results in huge score pulls, that have the big impact on revenues. But the length and intensity of one-day matches, given that national loyalties come into play, make them bigger money spinners,” he informs. Spice, with mobile operations in Punjab and Karnataka, has also introduced Cricket Central, a WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) portal, for hosting IPL-related content.

Cellular service provider Aircel, that claims over 10-million subscribers across its 9 telecom circles across the country, has set up an IPL-exclusive shortcode, SMS, voice and MMS service. The company has tied up with other players in the space to maximize revenues.

“We are expecting our revenues from the cricket and entertainment packages to go up three-four fold during the period that IPL runs,” says Rahul Sehgal, Chief Marketing Officer, Aircel Cellular Limited.

Meanwhile, Rajat Mukherjee, Idea Cellular’s chief corporate affairs officer feels that the IPL will have a restricted impact on its VAS revenues. “The matches are coming on TV with high viewership ratings. They are telecast at convenient timings. Also, the event’s duration is merely 40-odd days. Consequently, despite generating great public interest, the event would not have as much of an impact on our annual VAS revenues.”

“As such, revenues from VAS form an average of 10% of any service provider’s total earnings. Idea is at par with the industry standard,” he adds.

A recent BDA-Stanford study estimates the Indian mobile VAS industry to grow to Rs 11,600-crore by 2010. This market is set to cross the Rs 5,000-crore mark by the end of this year.