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Star India throws more weight around IPL 2019

Star is going full throttle to recover the massive investment it had made in buying the TV and digital rights of IPL for five years. An industry estimate says the broadcaster had made nearly Rs 3,000 crore from ad and distribution revenue. Star now requires a massive push to ensure IPL doesn't turn into a white elephant for it

For Star India, the upcoming season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) is like a do-or-die situation as the broadcaster is targeting to increase its overall revenue by at least 35%-40%.

To ensure that it gives a good reach to IPL, and therefore to advertisers who'll be signing bulk and last-minute deals, the network will broadcast opening, closing and all Sunday matches on its mass GECs and movie channels. Last year, only the playoffs and the final match were broadcast on GECs and movie channels.

According to an industry estimate, the broadcaster had made close to Rs 3,000 crore from ad (TV and digital) and distribution revenue. Star requires a massive push in the current season to ensure that IPL doesn't turn into a white elephant for it.

Star India, in its first year of broadcast of IPL, had initially decided that it would position IPL as a serious cricket property and not an entertainment show. But the broadcaster had to struggle with reach numbers.

Why is IPL 2019 a do-or-die situation for Star?

In 2017, Star India had won the five-year broadcast rights of IPL for a whopping Rs 16,000 crore. Since then, the broadcaster is going all out to recover the moolah and cash in on the rich league through marketing. This year, Star India has planned to further improvise the broadcast innovations for the 12th season of IPL and make it a bigger and better programming package.

Last year, the broadcaster had to struggle with reach as the initial qualifiers weren’t aired on Hindi mass entertainment channels. Later on, the broadcaster aired the playoffs and the finale on the GECs, which significantly boosted the viewership. Seeing this response, this year, Star India has decided to broadcast select IPL matches (opening, closing and all Sundays) on the network’s movies and general entertainment channels.

The network is planning to offer a programming package that will attract all members of the family, irrespective of their age, gender, language preference or geographic and cultural habits. Star will be offering IPL 2019 in seven different languages, including English, Hindi, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu and Bengali, along with the dedicated movies and GEC cluster.

Last year, Star India didn’t have a dedicated sports channel for Kannada, Telugu and Bengali; and had aired the language feeds on Star Suvarna Plus, Star Maa Movies and Star Jalsha, respectively. However, this year, the broadcaster will air the matches on its recently launched regional sports channels, Star Sports 1 Kannada, Star Sports 1 Telugu and Star Sports 1 Bangla.

Star India is also planning to create tailored content, ‘Super Sunday and Super Funday’, for audiences across demographics in their languages. Super Sunday will be broadcast on all sports channels and Super Funday on the GEC and movie cluster channels, namely Star Gold, Vijay Super, Maa Movies, Star Suvarna, Jalsha Movies, Star Pravah and Asianet Plus.

Every Sunday, the network will build the excitement for the matches by airing content such as movie integrations, celebrity interviews, special programming with IPL franchises and behind the scenes. They will air franchise-based shows such as MI TV, Knight Club, Halla Bol and The Super Kings Show. The network is also bringing back its hyper-personalised curated programming, ‘Star Sports Select: The Dugout’.

To attract viewers, Star India is also bringing on board more than 100 commentators across multiple languages and is planning to enhance the viewing experience through virtual reality and artificial intelligence. Last year, the network witnessed a positive response for its digital offering on Hotstar. As a result, they have decided to boost its programming on Hotstar as well.

With IPL 2018, Star India claimed to have reached out to 700 million viewers across screens and grew consumption by 25%. This year, the network wants to leverage a human insight with universal appeal to set up the tournament.

When it comes to marketing, Star India is planning to keep its focus on cricket and how IPL is a platform where the only thing matters is the game. Last year, the network had witnessed a setback for starting the promotion of the event a bit late.

However, this year, the network has started the promotions quite early with campaigns including videos featuring Rishabh Pant, Jasprit Bumrah, MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli, respectively.

The campaign

The new IPL campaigns released by the network have been built around the insight of how young Indians feel they are talented, but often do not get a platform to showcase themselves. When it comes to the creative thought behind the campaign, the campaign has taken inspiration from the inscription ‘Yatra pratibha avsar prapnotihi’ (Where talent meets opportunity) on the trophy.

The network feels that it is a powerful philosophy in a country like India where more than 50% people are below the age of 30 years. They believe IPL viewers will strongly resonate with the belief that IPL is a platform that offers an opportunity to young talent to shine under the mentorship of stars from across the globe.

With the campaign, the network points out the fact that there may be many big names in IPL, but even they have to be on top of their game every moment to be worthy of their names. The idea is creatively articulated as “Yeh Vivo IPL hai, yahaan game banayega name” (This is Vivo IPL, here your game will define your name).  The idea is brought to life with many scenarios where the game is consistently looking to prove, in a fun and sporting manner, that they are worthy of making a name too.

While the network has started promoting the new season early, they might face a challenge when it comes to attract brands, as IPL 2019 is releasing at the same time of General Elections 2019.

Rishabh Pant video:

Jasprit Bumrah video:

MS Dhoni video:

Virat Kohli video:

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