Star has brought in regionalisation and more depth to IPL: Industry experts

With the Season 11 of Indian Premier League (IPL) hurtling towards yet another exciting finale, Star India has pulled off a successful edition. When Star unveiled its first campaign for IPL 2018, there were many in the industry as well as cricket fans who felt that it was underwhelming, compared to the campaign blitz of the previous broadcaster, Sony. 

Several in the industry said that Star had missed the ‘mauka’ to capitalise on the tremendous opportunity provided by IPL. That the tyohaar and carnival atmosphere that the earlier campaigns whipped up was missing. 

Star soldiered on and re-imagined the entire tournament, bringing the focus back on the game – all said and done, it is the cricketing action on the field and fans’ loyalty towards their favourite players and teams that the cricket-crazy nation gathers to watch. And Star has delivered on this aspect. 

IPL 2018 back on track, with cricket taking centerstage 

Star India has taken a different stance in its communication and approach towards IPL. The network has been focussing more on the game, the players and the battle on the field, rather than whipping up a carnival-like atmosphere around the tournament. 

As Priti Murthy, CEO, OMD India, remarked, “The 11th season of IPL is different – it has brought in regionalisation and more depth. The ratings are good and the consolidation of all channels across regional markets is also encouraging. Furthermore, with the comeback of two old teams, the matches have some extra spice this season. However, there is definitely much more to be desired in terms of consumer engagement this season, but at least they have started it early on and by next season, we can look forward to even more engaging activities.” 

Ayaz Memon
Ayaz Memon
Echoing similar views, Ayaz Memon, Senior Journalist and Sports Consultant, said that Star has adopted a different approach for IPL 2018 in their pre- and post-programming. “It’s the first time for Star, so they had to do well and I think they have done well. I don’t know about the numbers and the TRPs, but this season is a successful one,” he added. 

From a consumer perceptive, what really has worked at a product level is that Star has taken the product many notches higher, observed a media observer who did not want to be named. He further said, “The content innovation has been outstanding. I think where they have done a fabulous job is the commentary team that they have brought in and also what they have done with Hotstar is commendable. They have also introduced an innovation, called The Dugout, which is fantastic. They have done very normal things, but have made the entire viewing experience very much engaging. The only drawback in the content part is that the commentators are bit loud.” 

“From a business perspective, I have heard from my colleagues that they have revenue which is outstanding. What they have also managed to do is the fabulous distribution and I’ve been told that the number is 500 crore plus incremental that they are doing on distribution revenue. So, if I have to put numbers to this year’s IPL revenues, I think it will be close to Rs 2.5 crore to Rs 3 crore, which includes global subscription and also ad rates,” the media observer informed. 

Ashish Sehgal
Ashish Sehgal
On a different note, Ashish Sehgal, COO, Zee Unimedia Ltd, felt that Star’s marketing campaigns were not up to the mark as compared to Sony’s. “Also, the content this time is very subjective, but they have made it now more cricket and sports oriented and have removed the entertainment factor from it. Sony had always got that entertainment, which used to attract people who are not sports enthusiasts, but I think with Star, they miss this,” he added. 


Was the tyohaar part really missed? 

“For me, it is all about a different approach,” said Memon. “Sony had established its identity with the IPL and now Star has to form its own identity. Star has approached it differently and has done it successfully. The whole ecosystem has changed and the approach towards the game has also slightly changed too, but the objective to entertain the viewers is constant.” 

Priti Murthy
Priti Murthy
While stating that India is an entertainment-loving country, Murthy said that cricket + tamasha is very much what IPL was coded for. “I was actually missing the tamasha and believe that it added some extra tadka to the spiced-up cricket genre. I definitely think that they should bring the tamasha back and not treat it as periphery. A game is a game after all – what makes it enticing to watch during IPL is all the drama around it, as it drives consumer engagement and they treat it like a carnival,” she remarked. 

For the media observer, the innovation of introduction of language feeds was a great move by Star. He noted that Sony had not done in this regard, though it had acquired a Bengali channel, Aath, to get more traction in West Bengal. “Sports is all about loyalty. We in trade and media know that it has moved from Sony to Star, but for consumers the hero of the movie is IPL and nothing else,” he affirmed. 

On the other hand, Sehgal added that Star’s language feeds have helped them a lot. Besides, the strategy to telecast the finale across is definitely a step to get more traction. “They have already got better reach than SET Max. But in order to get more weightage in the adjacent markets, they have strategised to telecast finale across the network.”  

How the campaign factor worked out for IPL 2018 

“This IPL, there weren’t too many campaigns around the tournament. One challenge that Star faced was that they were moving the tournament to their sports channels, so the reach would be lower than what they would have seen had they aired it across their channel bouquet. Thus, Star had to work a lot harder to try matching the same reach as the earlier editions of IPL. But Star wanted to do subscription revenue game,” remarked the media observer. 

According to him, Star has missed out on the campaign part for a marquee event like IPL. “After 10 years, the venue has changed from Sony to Star. I think we have to give credit to Sony for their brilliant marketing campaign for the 10 years that they had IPL,” he added. 

KV Sridhar
KV Sridhar
For KV Sridhar, Founder & Chief Creative Officer, Hyper Collective and Trustee, Population First, ASCI Board Member, Star has a lot of cricketers on their panel, besides The Dugout, and they have used them as the fun element. He, however, doesn’t consider the campaigns by either Star or Sony as standout campaigns for IPL. “To me, the best cricket campaign ever done for cricket on any broadcast is the Neo Sports campaign. It was very well done and acted like a suspense thriller. Ogilvy had done very good campaigns around IPL a few years back and Star had also done a beautiful campaign – ‘Mauka Mauka’. If you ask me about some of the best campaigns, I would say that Vivo and Swiggy are doing the better campaigns than IPL,” Sridhar remarked. 

He felt that both Sony and Star had missed the opportunity. “Also, being a creative person I don’t see how well or bad they have done, but see as to what they could have done with such an opportunity. If you ask any senior creative person, I am sure they will have the same response that the opportunity could have brought better results, and if we go back, Neo Sports has done it better than anyone,” he remarked.

According to Sridhar, it should not be just like any other sports advertisement. It should be very much unexpected. “What Ogilvy had done at that time with Neo Sports was quite unexpected and one couldn’t make out whether it was an ad for Neo Sports or for cricket till the end. It actually broke all the category clichés,” he added.

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