Enough tailwind for us to believe we will break records this IPL season, says Sanjog Gupta of Star Sports

Gupta, Head - Sports at Disney Star, believes that viewership is only going to get better as the tournament proceeds and anticipates this year to be the best year for IPL

Akansha Srivastava
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Enough tailwind for us to believe we will break records this IPL season, says Sanjog Gupta of Star Sports

Sanjog Gupta

Witnessing a 23% jump in reach with 30.7 crore viewers tuning in for the first 10 IPL matches, Star Sports has recorded the second highest reach ever in IPL history (other than IPL editions in Covid years). 

Given the viewership numbers of the first 10 matches and the last four nail-biting matches, Sanjog Gupta, Head - Sports at Disney Star, believes that viewership is only going to get better as the tournament proceeds and anticipates this year to be the best year for IPL. 

“It is an overwhelming response we have got from the fans. Generally, what happens with every tournament is that people are very pumped up in the first week and then it starts dwindling a bit. But the way the last four days' matches have panned out, we think that Star Sports will be operating at its highest level for the next couple of weeks. Now the anticipation is of a close game almost every night,” he said. 

Disney Star has cited BARC data for 2+ U+R NCCS All - Disney Star Network + OOH for Live Broadcast to claim the 6,230 crore minutes of watch time. 

Gupta added that the channel has seen record-breaking viewing figures for the first 8 days.

“This is a testament to the power of IPL itself, the compelling proposition of watching IPL on TV and fans' love for cricket in the country.”

The TVR among affluent male urban sports audiences has grown by more than 25% compared to the last edition, the broadcaster said in a statement. 

Until last year and even before this year’s IPL season, there were conversations of fatigue setting in around IPL, but Gupta pointed out that it doesn’t stand true anymore. 

Gupta said, “This would have been true until last year. There were four IPLs in 18 months which caused a little bit of disengagement. On top of that, because all of us were home for so long and IPL in 2022 happened at the time when things had opened up. Therefore, people preferred to stay out than spend time in front of their screens. Another factor adding to the fatigue was that IPL was restricted to only a few venues.”

He went on to say, “Now the bounce back is emphatic. The viewership figures second the fact that IPL is more robust than ever. It is attracting fans from all over the country. It is providing the entertainment and thrill that fans expect from IPL.” 

For the opening match, the broadcaster said that it witnessed a 31% growth in TV ratings coupled with a growth of 20% in reach compared to last season. 

Additionally, IPL on Star Sports delivered 14 crore viewers on opening day with a peak concurrency of 5.6 crores and an engagement of 76 minutes.

He emphasised that while there is a certain amount of battle between JioCinema and Star Sports for eyeballs, the pie is big enough for both to grow. “It doesn’t have to be that one has to decline for the other to grow and it’s not a zero-sum game. It is a misconception that one can win this game only by cutting the other. A person can watch matches both on mobile and TV at his/her convenience,” he said.

Gupta said that the channel's ambition is to break records for the season. Stating the reason for the same, he said, “There is enough tailwind for us to believe that we will get there. IPL is being played across 12 different venues, which means that most parts of the country are enthusiastic about IPL and the buzz is much wider among people. Two new franchises: Gujarat Titans and Lucknow Super Giants are playing at home for the first time. Altogether, the IPL ecosystem is as robust as pre-Covid times.” 

While the debate continues whether JioCinema will eat into Star Sports’ revenue pie from the tournament, according to KPMG Analysis last year, sports is a group/community/family viewing phenomenon and therefore, TV continues to be the preferred medium for it than digital. 

As per Gupta, coupled with this Disney Star’s legacy of engaging fans across the world for the tournament makes Star Sports the preferred choice for the audience. 

He commented, “There is a certain habit of watching cricket on Star Sports. Also, Star Sports is a preferred destination for sports, which is based on the equity that we have garnered over years of serving fans. Our objective is to serve fans, the numbers follow.” 

Gupta believes that Disney Star’s strategy to double down on serving different cohorts of fans in different regions has worked wonders. “Our experience of serving mega cast, which is a combo of 10 different feeds, all independent and customised for certain regions, complimented with programming unique to regions is driving this growth.”

While the exclusive TV rights for IPL 2023-2027 went to Disney Star India for Rs 23,575 crore, at the rate of Rs 57.5 crore per game, Reliance-backed Viacom18 bagged the digital rights for Rs 20,500 crore at the rate of Rs 50 crore per game.

Upon being asked whether the division of TV and digital media rights has helped the game, Gupta opined that it’s too early to judge if the division of tournament between JioCinema and Star Sports is value-adding or destructing. “The best people to answer this question are the members of BCCI and how they see it panning out. Our view is that we invested to the extent we wanted to invest and believe that we’ll be able to make a justifiable business case from it.” 

He further said, “Only time will tell if both TV and digital media rights holders of IPL are able to create disproportionate value in 5 years. But it should not be 1+1=2, but 1+1=3, if not 11.” 

As per the GroupM TYNY report 2023, it is estimated that digital will account for 56% of adex share and reach Rs 82,542 crore in 2023. The share of digital will further increase in the times to come, as per the report. 

Similarly, when asked about whether digital will overtake TV with regards to IPL revenue in the near future, Gupta answered, “While digital will grow at a faster clip due to a smaller base, the share of digital and TV changing dramatically is yet to be seen.”

He added that the flux in advertising had picked up in March and will further reflect as IPL progresses. “While our inventories were sold out on the opening day, there are advertisers who are rising up after seeing the opening day numbers, making up their minds on apportioning their advertising outlay to derive maximum RoI.”


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