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How will Disney Star sell IPL advertising on free-to-air channel Star Utsav Movies?

Disney Star’s move of broadcasting 12 matches on Star Utsav Movies will help them onboard a new set of advertisers, give existing advertisers a value addition and expand their reach, say top advertisers

Touted as a trump card to mitigate the impact of JioCinema’s strategy of streaming IPL for free, Disney Star India’s move to telecast 12 matches on the free-to-air (FTA) channel Star Utsav Movies is being followed by advertisers closely.

While the market is abuzz with analysts' and experts' viewpoints that this move will provide an incremental reach for advertisers, the broadcast media rights holder will also sell the FTA feed separately and onboard a new set of advertisers.

Hema Malik

Hema Malik, Chief Investment Officer, Mediabrands India, who handles a large chunk of IPL advertising on television, said, “In my knowledge, they do plan to sell it separately. With this move, Star is opening a new platform for advertisers.”

BK Rao

As per BK Rao, Senior Category Head at Parle Products, Star will bundle FTA as a part of the value adds rather than sell it separately. 

“This will also give FTA viewers a chance to watch IPL free of cost for the first time on TV. Eventually, the broadcaster benefits with an increased viewership,” Rao added.

Currently, Star Sport is asking for Rs 16-17 lakh for 10-second ads. 

Star’s FTA move to help onboard new advertisers

Malik pointed out that by broadcasting IPL on Star Utsav Movies, Star will open the gates for new sets of home and FMCG brands, which are not typically IPL advertisers.

“They will keep around 40% to 50% of the inventory for a new set of audiences and expand their portfolio,” she said.

But when it comes to large clients advertising on IPL, they will already have this inventory bundle in their mix. 

“At least large clients will get automatically covered and they will have the benefit of this new expansion,” Malik stated.

Star should focus on onboarding new audience and not run after revenue

“In a way, Disney Star is trying to expand revenue options with new kinds of advertisers, but I will see it more as an attempt to expand the reach than to just generate revenues. Star should clearly take this as a platform to get new audiences and not necessarily run after generating more revenue out of it,” Malik of Mediabrands India added.

Malik believes that Disney Star doesn’t have much to lose. 

“Even if it gets them reach and not enough revenue, it is still an opportunity worth exploring, because of the kind of price FTA operates at. I don’t think that the telecast of 12 matches is going to be a major dent in the revenue. In fact, I wonder why didn't they think of it earlier,” she said.

Boost in overall GRPs

Rammohan Sundaram

Rammohan Sundaram, Country Head and Managing Partner – Integrated Media, DDB Mudra Group, said that FTA brings more reach and this is being done to combat Jio’s no subscription approach. 

“This might help in increasing overall GRPs (Gross Rating Points) given the fall in IPL ratings in the past two years,” Sundaram stated. 

Shashank Srivastava

Shashank Srivastava, Executive Director – Sales and Marketing at Maruti Suzuki, commented that Disney Star’s move to telecast select IPL matches on its FTA channel seems to be an attempt to increase the reach of their IPL programming content beyond pay TV households.

Furthermore, he went on to say that both TV and digital partners are putting their best foot forward this IPL season to maximise reach on their respective platforms and the impact of the same will be keenly anticipated.

Karan Taurani

Karan Taurani, Senior Analyst at Elara Capital, stated that this is a good strategy by Star as it may keep the pay TV household number intact and more than compensate for the losses made by the reduction in pay TV households (annual loss of 3%, which is 5 million households), as against addition of 35 to 40 million FTA households.

Furthermore, he went on to say that this in turn will provide a competitive edge for Star versus JioCinema and make total viewership possibly reach 500 million which is at par with what JioCinema has been providing for marketers.

Extending free offerings on FTA to more matches will have a negative impact on monetisation

Elara Capital’s Taurani said, “We hope that this free offering on FTA stays only for a few matches going ahead too and does not extend to more matches, as it will have a big negative impact on the monetisation of the most expensive entertainment platform in India.”

“We hope the JioCinema offering too comes behind the paywall next season onwards, as pure ad monetisation opportunities don’t support the high content cost, which makes business economics unviable,” he added. 

“This year has been very unique in terms of the way IPL is being pitched in the market with very strong pitches,” Malik of Mediabrands India said on a concluding note. 


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