As the world of entertainment continues to evolve, Indian Premier League’s (IPL) digital rights holder Viacom18 and Disney Star, which has the television rights, are gearing up for the upcoming edition in unique ways.
Viacom18 is set to provide viewers with a 360-degree immersive viewing experience, while Disney Star is taking a leap into the metaverse with the launch of its own platform, 'Starverse'. These moves indicate the growing importance of innovative technology in the entertainment industry and promise to offer fans a new way to experience their favourite teams and players.
In order to elevate the viewing experience for its consumers, JioCinema recently unveiled some devices offering 360-degree immersive viewing features. These devices are scheduled to be rolled out in different price ranges.
JioCinema has announced the launch 360-degree immersive button within the JioCinema app to view the matches. Coming to the devices, Jio Dive, a 360-degree VR device, will also be launched alongside IPL 2023. The platform is also planning to roll out another device, JioGlass - which is a premium offering for the viewers.
Disney Star has rolled out the Star Sports Metaverse platform 'Starverse' ahead of IPL 2023. It enables an always-on immersive 3D experience for sports fans.
BestMediaInfo.com spoke to industry players to know more about the opportunities that will open up for brands, advertisers and audiences once these devices and platforms are rolled out by JioCinema and Disney Star.
Advertisers will have opportunities to drive multi-sensory content engagement
Shashank Srivastava, Senior Executive Director, Marketing and Sales, Maruti Suzuki, said that India has a young digitally connected population. High internet and smartphone penetration in India have propelled the growth of VR, AR and MR devices in India.
“The growing Indian gaming industry has the potential to leverage the opportunity and become a global frontrunner in the Metaverse space. Maruti Suzuki has already launched NEXAverse and ARENAverse which are transforming the consumer’s car buying experience,” he said.
Furthermore, he went on to state that in the entertainment space, there is a constant shift and evolution in consumer content consumption platforms wherein AR and VR seem to be the next big thing for an immersive viewing experience.
“The launch of Starverse and Jio VR devices ahead of IPL is expected to give that immersive viewing experience. The launch of these platforms is expected to give the advertisers opportunities to engage with the customers, help the consumers enter a new world to have a more immersive brand experience and drive multi-sensory content engagement,” Srivastava added.
Going forward, the brands will get opportunities for creating engaging content and harnessing innovation in the digital world that can transform the process of the physical world and eventually blur the lines between the two spaces, he said.
According to Shradha Agarwal, Co-Founder and CEO, Grapes, one of the major pain points inhibiting the mass adoption of VR technology has always been the high product cost. But if Jio comes out with the Jio Dive - a 360-degree VR device, which is speculated to cost less than Rs 1,000, it changes the game altogether.
“Moreover, associating it with an event of such high popularity among the Indian audience as the IPL, Jio is basically positioning its VR devices as an integral part of the viewing experience. Similarly, launching the Starverse with IPL in sight, Disney might be banking on the already engaged audience of the cricketing event, and try to build on the positive sentiment,” she added.
Furthermore, she went on to say that IPL has always attracted the most lucrative advertising deals, it might be translated to the virtual and ‘Metaverse’ medium in the coming editions, depending on how the pilot experience goes.
“Apart from the typical digital ads finding a place in the 360-degree virtual reality, we can get really creative with the ad placements in this space. I am thinking about virtual representation or avatars of celebrities and influencers, 3D products with life-like animations, more immersive in-platform gamification, and much more,” Agarwal stated.
“In virtual reality, the consumers might not prefer to be interrupted, so the brands will have to become a part of the promised ‘immersive experience’ to best reach out to them. I think Disney’s Starverse being an ‘always-on’ experience, is a step in that direction,” she added.
Agarwal went on to state that cricket as a sport has a lot of simultaneously moving components, and as multiple cameras on the field once enhanced our experience of the sport, metaverse and VR technology is poised to take it to yet another level.
“So, overall, it seems like a good strategy for Disney and Jio to launch their products and services with IPL in mind. Also, the cricket-loving audience often coincides with the general entertainment-loving audience, which can help in the expansion of these technologies beyond sports in the near future,” she added.
Brands can stand out in an increasingly crowded marketplace
According to Harish Iyer, EVP, Media and Investment, Interactive Avenues (a Reprise Network Company and the digital arm of Mediabrands India), as technology continues to evolve, so do the opportunities for brands and advertisers to connect with their target audiences in more innovative and immersive ways.
Globally renowned leagues such as the English Premier League (EPL) and Formula 1 have begun to develop digital assets in partnership with virtual reality (VR) companies, he stated.
Furthermore, he went on to say, “The intersection of JioCinema's VR feature and devices and Disney's Starverse in the upcoming IPL season is a perfect example of this. With Viacom18 and Star Sports also rolling out VR features and devices, it's clear that the future of sports and entertainment is rapidly becoming more interactive and experiential. This could present exciting opportunities for advertisers and brands to engage with their audiences in new and interactive ways, and consequently stand out in an increasingly crowded marketplace.”
“For example, imagine being able to transport viewers into the heart of an IPL match using VR technology, allowing them to experience the excitement and energy of the game as if they were right there in the stadium. Brands could use this technology to create immersive branded experiences, from virtual pop-up shops to interactive product demos, giving viewers a first-hand taste of their products and services,” he added.
Moreover, the increased engagement and interaction that VR provides could enable brands to gain deeper insights into what their audiences are looking for, allowing them to tailor their marketing efforts accordingly, Iyer stated.
Further, Gurbaksh Singh, Chief Innovation Officer, Dentsu Creative India, said, “Immersive content-capable devices will open floodgates for content creators to make the experience mesmerising and it also facilitates new possibilities for the advertiser to engage with the consumer.”
“Similar to the Reliance mobile revolution, which transformed everything by bringing things into the mainstream, Jio Glass has the potential to change the game for India,” he added.
Furthermore, he went on to say that an all-encompassing ecology of the Metaverse offers untapped potential that has yet to be discovered. India is a fan-crazy nation, so it would be intriguing whether they can unlock the immersive environment's latent potential to provide fans with a platform where they can experience and engage with sports in a new dimension.
New opportunities for marketers to create memorable experiences
Maanesh Vasudeo Senior Vice President-Media Operations (Biddable Performance and Programmatic), LS Digital, believes that immersive entertainment experiences are going to play a massive role in the future of entertainment. Their ability to transport the audience to a different world and an awesome one-to-one experience will trump other entertainment experiences.
“While there is certainly excitement around the potential of these new technologies, it remains to see how consumers will respond to the increased immersion that comes with VR/AR/MR experiences. It will be interesting to see how these impact viewership patterns in the future. Immediate consumer insights will be around - Do people watch long-form content or do they plug in for highlights and key moments? How long is long-form content? Is it a movie, a football match or a cricket match?” he stated.
Vasudeo concluded by saying that for marketers, this presents a new opportunity to create more memorable experiences that leave a lasting impression on their audience, but they must adapt their content to suit the unique demands of this new medium.