Battling several demons on many fronts—be it the vagaries over dates and locations in an election year and the uncertainty over reach in the wake of the TRAI order—Star India is going all out to get viewers on its side of the turf for the Vivo Indian Premier League 2019 that starts next month. In a set of teasers released over the weekend, the broadcaster uses the league’s trademark bellicosity, pitting mentor against mentee, to get the buzz going around Brand IPL.
This year, the network says it has conceptualised the tournament as a set of games where the best take on the best. The tagline “Yeh Vivo IPL hai, yahaan game banayega name” (This is Vivo IPL, here your game defines you) is in keeping with the narrative that the tournament has employed in the past. That the IPL is one of the biggest equal-opportunity talent platforms for cricket in the country.
Star Sports CEO Gautam Thakar explains the creative process underlining the campaign. “The trophy has the lines ‘yatra pratibha avsar prapnotihi’ inscribed on it. It translates as ‘where talent meets opportunity’. Viewers strongly resonate with the belief that this is a platform that offers an opportunity for young talent to shine under the mentorship of stars from across the globe. No other platform in India has provided as many opportunities to youngsters as the IPL has, for over a decade,” he said.
The two 30-second films build on this with young players Rishabh Pant and Jaspreet Bumrah challenging stalwarts M S Dhoni and Virat Kohli respectively. More films to be released in the coming days will have the veterans responding to the challenge and closer to the start of the tournament, the network will release television commercials specific to the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) clash, which is the opening tie on March 23.
Along with the IPL campaigns, Star is also pushing communication around the new channel packs in order to counter the challenges posed by the implementation of the new tariff order mandated by TRAI.
Thakar says that in some markets the two campaigns will be clubbed together but by and large, the two communication strategies will function separately.
Star India is also focusing on its distribution strategy given the new tariff order. It has increased the number of regional sports channels in its portfolio and will leverage its presence in these markets through customized packaging.
It has a panel of close to 100 commentators for this season, across languages.
The network will also use its entertainment channels in different languages on Sundays to expand the scope of the tournament’s viewership. The Select Dugout feed introduced last year will also continue into this year, albeit with some additions based on the insights gathered from last year. And a new segment will be introduced to make the game more engaging for children.
The network’s assurance of a growth in reach and viewership over last year is the basis for selling advertising inventory on the IPL. Thakkar says, “I cannot get into specifics, but I can say that we are in a much better place this year even after setting higher goals than last year.” Industry estimates peg Star India’s revenue from the IPL in 2018 at around Rs 2,000 crore. This year, sources estimate that the network has already signed close to Rs 1,100 crore worth of sponsorships.
Thakar says that he and his team are working to ensure that the Star Sports bouquet is available on as many subscriptions across the country as possible by the time the tournament launches. “That there is consumer inertia is true. That we have a lot at stake (in case of the IPL) is also true. But we have a very strong cricket calendar, starting with the ongoing India-Australia series, going into the IPL and then, of course, the World Cup. So we are confident that people will want to watch cricket on our platforms. Additionally, we are constantly working with cable and DTH (direct-to-home) operators to be included on their base packs,” he says. Given that the IPL is the most expensive cricket property in the country, there is little that broadcaster and the brands backing the tournament want to leave to chance.―Business Standard