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As Asia Cup, World Cup goes free on mobile, Hotstar plays on volume; slashes mobile ad rates

Setting high hopes with Asia Cup and World Cup falling during the upcoming festive season, Ajit Varghese, Head of Network Ad Sales at Disney Star, told BestMediaInfo.com that the broadcaster aims to get hold of 70-80% marketing spends by brands this festive season

Ajit Varghese

With the aim to have a 70-80% share in the brands’ budgets this festive season, Disney Star has made its sales strategy more lucrative for brands ahead of the 2023 Asia Cup and World Cup.

Disney Star is selling ad spots on mobile at similar CPM rates to UGC platforms, made mobile free to view, launched a self-serve platform and opened up more targeting options to ensure brands across arena can be part of cricket buzz as the festive season approaches. 

As per various reports, this time around, Disney Star aims to reach 800 million+ viewers across TV (GEC + Sports) and Disney+ Hotstar (Entertainment + Sports) in the next three months, fueled by Asia Cup and World Cup coverage.

In the last Cricket World Cup held in 2019, Disney Star reached 552 million people (Source: BARC 2+).

Advertising on mobile = advertising on the UGC platform

Along with making cricket free to view on mobile, according to market sources, Disney+ Hotstar is offering CPM rates of Rs 70-80/CPM on mobile, bringing it down from last time’s Rs 150-200 CPM for the World Cup and Asia Cup.

Ajit Varghese, Head of Network Ad Sales at Disney Star, said, “We are making sure that every client in India can participate in live cricket in the coming months where pricing is no longer a barrier. By making mobile free to view, we are aiming to become the largest online video platform in India. We believe that if there are 550 million video viewers in India, using mobile free as a strategy, we can get to 70-80% of that mobile universe making us the largest platform.”

Indian OTTs already deal with challenges like lower ARPU, high content cost and a fragmented market. Therefore, certain experts believe that Disney Star’s move of putting out a mobile feed for free viewing will negatively impact subscription revenue growth for Disney Star, which is SVOD/freemium-based.

But Varghese has an explanation for this move. He said, “Disney+ Hotstar has been there for eight years. We have tried various combinations, both for SVOD and AVOD business. We are definitely seeing a potential for incremental revenue coming through this strategy of going mobile for free.”

For the record, CTV rates offered by the platform for World Cup and Asia Cup range between Rs 300-400/CPM.

According to reports, While Disney’s OTT platform is selling World Cup’s co-presenting sponsorship at Rs 150 crore, 'Powered by' sponsorship is pegged to be around Rs 75 crore. Associate sponsorship is kept around Rs 40 crore.

A co-presenting sponsor will have to shell out Rs 30 crore, powered by Rs 18 crore and associate sponsorship Rs 12 crore for advertising during Asia Cup on Disney+ Hotstar.

For the first time, Disney+ Hotstar has also introduced language feed-specific sponsorships for Asia Cup and World Cup for regional advertisers.

Advance targeting options

Disney+ Hotstar has introduced over 75 targeting parameters (previously it was only 35),  with the flexibility of cross-tabbing, creation of custom cohorts and interest-based targeting. Disney+ Hotstar also offers first-party targeting for advertisers to reach out to their own customers on live sports.

Varghese said, “Digital obviously has more targeting options, but we're making sure that the flexibility of options given to clients is at the highest level. We are having newer ways of advertising. For example, Click to engage and Click to Whatsapp. While we always had billboards, we are opening up a performance layer to billboards for our clients to participate in.  We want to ensure that the clients find a way to use cricket in their media plans between September-November.”

Flexibility in match and feed selections

The brands will also have the flexibility of choosing the number of India and Non-India games during CWC. A similar flexibility is also offered by the platform for Asia Cup.

Based on the brands’ product positioning of mass/premium, advertisers can buy Star Sports SD only, Star Sports HD only or both during Asia Cup and World Cup. Disney Star also shared, “To optimise for brands’ priority markets, there will be flexibility to choose Star Sports regional only channels or SS Hindi + SS English only channels.”

On TV, Star Sports will also be providing a range of outlays with as low as single-digit crores to ensure a minimum level of reach as clients benefit from such a mega event that happens once in four years.

Star is demanding Rs 30 lakh for a 10-second ad on TV, which is 30-40% higher than the previous World Cup, as per sources.

According to reports, in the case of the Asia Cup, a spot buy of 10 seconds is priced at Rs 25 lakh for the India vs Pakistan matches. The non-India matches ad spots are priced at Rs 2.3 lakh/10 seconds. Ad rates for India matches and finals are marked at Rs 17 lakh per 10 seconds.

The sources also said that on TV, the co-presenting sponsor will have to shell out Rs 120 crore and Associate Sponsor will have to spend Rs 90 crore for CWC.

Disney+ Hotstar launches self-serve platform ahead of the festive+cricketing season

The self-serve platform will allow the setting up of accounts with configurable role-based access, planning and creation of new campaigns, making payments, managing/making mid-flight changes and visualising results, without the need to reach out directly to Disney+ Hotstar sales teams.

The broadcaster said that the aim of this platform is to potentially reach out to all video advertisers across the country, with deal sizes from Rs 2 lakh upto Rs 50 lakh, who have either refrained from or never run campaigns on live sports, and thus make advertising on live sports more accessible.

Varghese emphasised on the broadcaster's ambitious plan of raking in 70-80% of the brands’ advertising budget this festive season. He said, “We are No. 1 in the GEC Entertainment and sports space. We are trying to be number one in the video online universe space. We have offerings for brands across the spectrum. Whether a client wants frequency, wants to participate in an event, wants reach, or even scheduling, geography and targeting benefits, we're making sure that every customisation and flexibility is available to the clients.”

When asked about the premium demanded by the broadcaster for the India-Pakistan match, Varghese said that it’s a myth that the India-Pakistan match ad rate is very costly. Explaining the thought behind his statement, he commented, “95% of television programmes ratings are less than 1. In the case of cricket, India's non-live matches do around a 1.5 rating. Non-India games do 2 to 2.5 in terms of ratings. India games will vary anywhere between 5 to 15 ratings.  Now imagine in an industry where you get a 15 rating, what is the price you are willing to pay? There is no counter to this, no? A brand can't get such a rating anywhere else. The average ratings for India matches last year was around 9.5. Can any content in India give a 9.5 average rating over 8 hour period across the tournament? That's the power of this game. So, to me, it's a myth that it's costly.”

Sharing details about the mix of advertisers willing to advertise during the Asia Cup and World Cup, Varghese said, “Apart from the startup world which is facing the headwinds, I don't see any category of brands refraining from advertising during the upcoming cricketing season. Even the 28% GST issue in the gaming world will not have an immediate impact. Apart from that, the auto industry, infrastructure, industrial, real estate, fashion accessories and SMCGs, all are showing amazing interest.”

Asia Cup to be held from August 30, 2023, to September 17, 2023. World Cup will be held between October 5, 2023, to November 19, 2023.


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