IPL, a mixed bag of emotions

- April 21, 2023
| By : Tanisha Saxena |

Restaurant and pub owners offering screening of Indian Premier League matches are facing mixed response with some struggling to attract customers due to Covid while others having heavy footfall

STAR-STUDDED: Virat Kohli has ensured that his RCB teammates attend the various branches of One8Commune to build the brand

Even though the 16th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket is in full bloom with matches taking place in front of packed houses at cricket grounds across the country, restaurants and bars screening matches are not having a smooth ride largely due to the looming shadow of Covid.

Restaurants and bars have been organising live screening of IPL for years as they believe it would boost their business by increasing the footfall.

However, the situation after pandemic has changed drastically, especially due to the recent surge in Covid numbers.

Simran Srivastava, Marketing Manager at Quoin Sports Bar, Novotel-Aerocity, says, “This year, the number of people visiting the bar for live screening is extremely low. It is not that people don’t wish to come, but the reason I am observing is the surge in Covid cases in recent past. We are not taking reservations as there aren’t that many people showing interest. People tend to avoid crowd and ever since the pandemic has pushed people to make way for entertainment at home, things have severely affected this sector.”

Since the pandemic induced lockdown made people aware of the other alternatives for entertainment at home, people have also got used to watching live cricket matches on their phone via streaming platforms like Hotstar.

Going especially to a pub or a restaurant is not something people are interested in as much as they were a few years ago. Besides, people can avail heavy discounts on food online. All these factors have somehow contributed to the decline in the trend of IPL screening among people.

APT OPTION: For those who can’t get to the stadiums, watching cricket in a pub or a restaurant is a good option

Srivastava adds, “We are accepting reservations only from people who have been booking close to a hundred guests. There are no special meals or discounts. It is simply a la carte where people have to order a particular food item from the menu.”

Economic downturn also seems to have affected people. It appears they are not willing to spend enough on food even though they sit for hours to watch the matches.

Naina, Head of Marketing at ‘Yes Minister Bowling, Bar & Kitchen’, admits that people who come to watch matches don’t order much.

“The thing is that IPL screening is no longer a profitable business gig. People come to enjoy live screening but they don’t order much. For example, a week ago there was a group of friends who booked the table for six. They just ordered drinks and slider. Naturally, the bill wasn’t high. The percentage of profit [we want] is hardly raised by it. We can’t ask the customers to vacate the table just because they are not ordering much,” she says.

Some profiting from IPL

Still, there are restaurants and pubs banking on screenings to attract customers, with offers such as 1+1 on drinks.

At ‘My Bar Headquarters’ in Connaught Place, a group of 20 people is watching the match on the giant screen.

Kapil Kumar, 28, who works in a bank finds the place an ideal destination for IPL live screening.

He says, “I have been coming to this place for the last six years and every time I come here during the IPL season, I truly enjoy myself. The atmosphere is great. I have always liked the idea of watching cricket on a giant screen over Continental and Italian food and drinks.”

Kumar has come to the bar with his colleagues. According to him, the bar has an attractive variety of food including north Indian, Chinese, Italian among others.

OFFER: Limitless Cookhouse at Ansal Plaza is offering live screening of IPL matches

He adds, “It is a perfect place to hang out with friends and have a great time. We all have been cricket fans since childhood and before this concept arrived, we used to gather at one of our friends’ home and order food. But watching the match here on such a big screen and enjoying your favourite team win the match is a different feeling altogether. It is perhaps closest to what a person would feel in a stadium.”

Ajay Garg, manager at ‘My Bar Headquarters’, Connaught Place, explains, “The IPL has always been a crowd puller. We have been screening live cricket matches ever since the concept started. The footfall increases by approximately 30-40% and we do pretty good business, touchwood. We have 40-inch screens at the bar and the timings of the matches are so favourable that people after office hours definitely stop by or maybe an impromptu plan works. We see great crowd every year. Moreover, people have literally craved for such an experience after the pandemic. No matter what, the idea of chilling out with friends and watching cricket over drinks is never going to be replaced by anything. At home, the options are limited and again one has to arrange everything on his own.”

Similarly, at One8 Commune, a venture and chain of restaurants owned by cricketer Virat Kohli, the atmosphere is unforgettable.

Fans of Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), a franchise team based in Bengaluru express their love for the team. Virat Kohli being the prominent player of the team receives immense support and applause for his performance at his restaurant.

Rivansh Kumar, manager at the restaurant informs, “We are having a beer bucket offer as of now. A bucket of three costs Rs 725+taxes and a bucket of six is Rs 1,125+taxes.”

He says further, “Watching IPL or any format of cricket at a stadium is an experience. But not everyone can go to the stadium, and therefore sitting with like-minded people and celebrating the intrigues of the matches together is an experience which everyone wants to have. At One8 Commune, we always see great footfall but when RCB plays, the vibe of the restaurant is different. Fans can be seen hooting and cheering for the team. It is like people feel there’s personal victory if RCB play well. So yes, the atmosphere of the restaurant during the IPL screening is worth noting. It is indeed a great time to ensure growth of business.”

OWNER-PLAYER: The One8 Commune restaurant is owned by former India captain Virat Kohli

On a similar note, Junkyard Cafe which is situated in Connaught Place received good footfall during IPL matches.

There are no charges for booking and the cafe takes pride in being houseful most of the time. The theme of the cafe is marvels made out of scrap. The decorations comprise things made out of scrap material. Every year, the cafe welcomes around 30% increase in footfall.

“Like every year, we are anticipating an increase of about 40% people to watch the live screening of IPL. For the last two matches only, we had 60% tables booked. So, we can say that it is indeed profitable for us,” shares Mudit Aggarwal from the cafe.

Aditya Khurana, manager at another bar and restaurant called ‘Oggy and Dobby’ asserts, “We started screening of IPL games this year only. The stakes are high for small business owners like me who don’t have enough capital. To arrange a giant screen and then on the top of that, give heavy discounts or offers on food items on the menu seems out of place. However, already established and successfully-run business might take the risk.”

Some owners have observed that it is by and large the locals who come for screening and not tourists or people from other states.

VISITORS: It is generally the locals who are attracted to the IPL screenings and not tourists

For example, a person coming to attend a meeting from outside the city would not necessarily wait for screening. Hence, not every cafe or bar is able to generate good revenue from IPL screening.

The Indian Premier League (IPL) began from March 20 and is on till June 1.