NEW DELHI: IPL 9 is still two months away but 70% of the official broadcaster's advertising inventory has already been sold as it aims to pull in a record Rs 1,200 crore in ad revenue.

Despite the controversies that have dogged the cricket tournament – two teams have been suspended and officials banned for life for their involvement in a betting scam – Sony Pictures Network is expecting this year's India Premier League to be the biggest yet, generating a 20% increase in adspend compared to last year.

"Despite the Twenty20 World Cup preceding it and a host of other cricketing events, there has been a huge interest around this year's edition," said Rohit Gupta, president, Sony Pictures Network.

That much is clear when one considers that at this stage last year the broadcaster had sold only around 40% of its inventory.

"IPL is now seen as a risk-free investment for advertisers as both ratings and reach have been growing consistently year-on-year," Gupta told the Economic Times.

Media agencies agreed with that assessment. "Advertisers like the IPL because it offers a high return-on-investment," said Anand Chakravarthy, managing partner, West head, Maxus India.

"In April and May, schools will remain shut and a lot of summer brands will get active," he noted, while "new mobile phone brands looking to make a mark find the IPL incredibly attractive".

Indeed, one Chinese phone brand, Vivo, has replaced Pepsi as the tournament sponsor while another, OPPO, has joined mobile telecoms provider Vodafone and e-commerce platform Amazon as a presenting sponsor.

Along with increased ratings and reach come increased advertising rates – around 10-15% higher than in 2015, according to an executive at Coca-Cola.

Not that Pepsi is completely out of the picture: the soft drinks giant is also on board as a sponsor this year and the executive observed that with the brand's new global campaign being rolled out, "the IPL will provide the perfect vehicle".

Data sourced from Economic Times;p additional content by Warc staff