After spending heftily on bagging media rights for IPL 2023-2027 seasons, both Star Sports and JioCinema have pulled the big guns out to maximise their ROI by offering the best experience to advertisers and audiences.
While JioCinema will be streaming IPL for the first time, it is pitching its free streaming service for IPL matches, media cable launch, regional feeds, growth in CTV and its penetration to advertisers.
On the other hand, Star Sports is not behind in the race and is touting penetration and time spent on TV, its reach and past experience of broadcasting IPL.
This year’s battle between Star Sports and JioCinema to lure advertisers will set the stage for brands to take calls for the coming years.
JioCinema’s ad rates range between Rs 200-300 CPM (cost per thousand impressions). The ad rate for Connected TV is Rs 6 lakh per 10 seconds. Star Sport is asking for Rs 16-17 lakh for 10-second ads.
Last year, the overall Disney Star's TV revenue from IPL was around Rs 4,000-4,100 crore, which includes income from advertising and distribution. Going by this Rs 4,000 crore figure, Disney Star earned around Rs 54 crore per match from broadcast in 2022. This year is definitely going to be a nail-biting situation, but experts believe that there would be takers of both digital and TV and Star Sports will grow its revenue.
“If not grow, it will be able to reach its last year’s revenue mark at least,” said a former broadcasting industry CXO, who has dabbled in sports broadcasting as well.
According to news reports, JioCinema too is eyeing Rs 3,700 crore in revenue from IPL this year.
Digital still has a long way to go before it beats TV’s reach
According to a KPMG report from 2023, TV enjoys an overall reach of 900 million compared to the 450-500 million monthly active users of digital in 2022 – thus exceeding the reach of digital platforms by a significant margin. In 2022, TV penetration at all India levels stood at approximately around 70%. Its penetration was at 87% in urban and 61% in rural households in 2022.
The same report also states that when it comes to TV consumption, sports had the highest reach among all genres on TV at 722 million in the first nine months of 2023.
Rajiv Dubey, Head of Media, Dabur, too rooted for the might of TV over digital when it comes to sports. He said, “When it comes to sports, my stance is that TV always remains the preferred medium other than the people who are on the go and prefer to watch sports on a mobile phone or other devices. At home, sports viewing always happens on TV. However, this year it was said that the numbers on TV and digital were similar. But the digital numbers which are mostly claimed can never be corroborated. On the other hand, TV numbers are syndicated ones.”
As Star Sports begins its second IPL cycle - having delivered a reach of 400+ million in past editions - it aims to reach a viewership of 500 million in the upcoming edition.
Even Shashank Srivastava, Executive Director, Sales and Marketing at Maruti Suzuki, believes that TV will remain the preferred platform for advertisers for impact and brand building in comparison to digital.
He commented, “With internet connectivity and speed improvements in India along with data becoming cheaper, there has been a significant growth of digital mediums in the past few years and the numbers are only expected to grow further. Having said that, TV continues to hold its fort and is a significantly important medium for all advertisers. When it comes to mass reach, impact and brand building, TV will continue to be the preferred medium for advertisers.”
Sports consumption is a co-viewing phenomenon in India
Co-viewing is an integral part of sports consumption in India owing to the emphasis on family viewing, for not only sports but also other genres.
As per KPMG analysis, the dominance of TV is in part due to that TV lends itself well to family and co-viewing with certain genres like sports made for TV. The family remains an important part of the social fabric in India, and 97% of TV households in India being single TV, lends credence to the importance of family viewing.
While many counter that when it comes to co-viewing, people can watch IPL on CTVs or buy a media cable that Jio will be launching ahead of IPL, a media head at a big FMCG company countered and said, “Culturally in India, people love to watch cricket together in India. Even if CTV adoption is increasing it is still at 10 million due to low fixed broadband penetration and relatively higher entry costs. It is estimated that currently there are 0.5 million cord-cutters, but it is still at 0.2% of the overall TV universe.”
According to reports, 13 million HHs will be cutting the cord by 2026, which is still at 5% of the projected TV universe. It would mean a large majority of the Indian population looking at TV as their primary source of entertainment in the medium to long-term.
Another media head at a telco shared that a lot of people have a smart TV but that doesn’t mean they have moved into watching OTT content on that smart TV. A lot of people are still watching linear TV on their smart TV.
Srivastava seconded, “Although more and more people are buying connected TVs in India but the number of people actually utilising it for streaming content online is still limited.”
Past experience in broadcasting IPL comes as an advantage
While JioCinema will be streaming IPL for the first time, Star Sports has had the legacy and the infrastructure of broadcasting sports and especially IPL for the last five years.
Another media planner said that Star Sports is going all out in the market and positioning itself as the one having a legacy of broadcasting IPL.
“There is a certain heritage to the property on the Star Sports and they are going all out and marketing this aspect well. On the other hand, when JioCinema streamed FIFA World Cup, we all know they couldn’t handle the traffic in the initial days and there were glitches and time lag.”
JioCinema streaming IPL for free has a negligible impact on Star Sports
There are two schools of thought in this regard in the industry. One set believes that JioCinema streaming IPL for free would be a game changer. The other set believes that it would have a negligible impact on the TV viewership of IPL
Dabur’s Dubey said, “Three years back also IPL was free for all subscribers on JioCinema when it was on Hotstar. But this didn’t make any impact on Star Sports’ viewership.”
Historically, cricket has been available to viewers free of cost on Doordarshan for all Indian matches during bilateral and Cricket World Cups.
Even after that, in terms of viewership, 2022 has been a record-breaking cricket season for Disney Star across Asia Cup, ICC Men’s T20 World Cup and India’s bilateral series against Australia and New Zealand. Star Sports has seen TV ratings grow by 36-47%.
“TV has dominated as a platform for cricket viewership in India and Star Sports is working towards delivering a scale never seen before,” said the spokesperson.
With two broadcasters, there will be immense surround sound for IPL 2023 and brands across categories will be excited to jump on this bandwagon. This surround sound will drum up interest among viewers to watch IPL 2023 and TV as a medium will benefit as live sports continues to be an experience that viewers prefer watching on the big screen.
Star Sports’ HD push
Disney Star is targeting 90 million viewers on HD with the launch of new HD channels in Star Sports Tamil HD and Star Sports Telugu HD, targeting big IPL viewership in southern markets with high-definition feed.
HD TV helps brands target a premium audience base. Premium viewers share a high affinity for watching IPL on HD channels. As per BARC, 81% of HD viewers are from NCCS AB with 3x higher affinity among NCCS A in Megacities.
As per BARC, the total HD households in India as of January 2023 stand at 70 million, growing 32% in just the last nine months and 100% in two years. Total HD viewers in India have now grown close to 200 million, a scale that is by far unmatched for brands looking to target premium audiences.
The south region has been a massive market in terms of TV viewership for IPL and the affinity to regional language content in the region is the highest in the country. The access to high-quality live sports content in the regional languages will be a big boost for the overall HD viewership in India, giving advertisers an enormous scale to target premium viewers during IPL 2023.
Sanjog Gupta, Head - Sports at Disney Star, said, “We will make all the efforts to ensure that more people have access to Star Sports. We are launching two premium HD sports channels — in Tamil and Telugu, in addition to HD channels in English and Hindi. Last year, we managed to place our sports channels in the base packages of cable operators in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh/ Telangana markets, which has ensured higher reach. We will make IPL the biggest ever on TV," he said.
Disney Star will be broadcasting IPL 2023 across 22+ channels which commands a network share of over 30% in India. The league will be broadcast across 10+ languages with over 100 experts engaging viewers in ways bigger than ever.
Disney Star’s plan to launch the metaverse platform ‘Starverse ‘around IPL
After months of testing, Disney will be rolling out its metaverse platform ‘Starverse,’ around the time of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023 season. The platform will be available on the mobile web.
Reports suggest that Disney’s Starverse will enable an immersive 3D experience for fans of sports. According to reports, Disney Star has collaborated with multiple agencies to design the tech backend, 3D models and gamification part of Starverse.