The online version of Indian Premier League (IPL) 7, which premiered on Starsports.com, is also gaining traction as compared to earlier years. However, the range of investments is very low as compared to the broadcast medium.
As is known, Starsports.com had licensed the digital distribution rights for IPL 2014 from Times Internet, the digital arm of Times Group. This year, therefore, there is no YouTube telecast of IPL. Starsports.com is streaming video on demand on its portal, via Star Sports app, and through mobile operator services powered by Star Sports.
Star Sports has signed on HUL as the title sponsor for the tournament on the digital platform. As per sources, HUL has invested close to Rs 5 crore on the title sponsorship. Along with HUL, there are five associate sponsors – Amazon, Toyota, Reckitt Benckiser, Bridgestone, and ITC.
Sources indicate that all the associate sponsors have invested close to Rs 2 crore. The price pitched by Star Sports was Rs 9 crore for the title sponsorship and Rs 5 crore for the associate sponsorship.
The logos of all the brands are featured on the page of the portal, and every match clipping is preceded by a mandatory advertisement. The logos are visible around the screen window. Streaming of the match starts with advertisement(s). In most of the cases, the duration of the advertisement is 20-30 seconds. The logos on the page are hyperlinked to either the brand page or the Twitter page of that particular brand.
As far as brand engagements are concerned, Reckitt Benckiser has initiated a contest called ‘Moov of the Match’, wherein audiences may send their ‘Move of the Match’ moment and win prizes. Similarly, HUL from its product portfolio is showcasing Clear shampoo, Cornetto, Red Label, Fair & and Lovely, and Lipton Tea (from Unilever Global) till now. Reckitt Benckiser, on the other hand, is showcasing Dettol, Moov, and Durex condoms from its product portfolio; while ITC is showcasing Engage deo spray from its portfolio. Toyota is showcasing Etios as of now. These showcasings might be replaced with other products, as sources close to the developments suggest.
Amazon, which has invested around Rs 30 crore on Set Max, is also present on Starsports.com with its own product portfolio. The logo hyperlink leads to the home page of Amazon, along with the commercials which are played on the portal.
Spot buy rates
As per norm, spot buy inventory is also available at the portal during the tournament. According to sources, the spot buy rates vary between Rs 45,000 and Rs 75,000. Though these rates are very small as compared to the TV medium, marketers are steadily responding.
Like the TV version, Starsports.com also has a ‘Star Power Special’ section before and after the match, where experts (not visible on Set Max) analyse and discuss the match, strategy and players.
Analysts believe that although digital as a medium of sports viewing is gaining traction, it is yet to take flight. The biggest drawback in case of live streaming is broadband connectivity. Analysts suggest that the viewership is usually random and is not appointment based as compared to TV viewing. However, insiders at Starsports.com say that average time spent by individual on the portal is 30 minutes.
Some advertisers who have invested on the portal said that the investment is targeted towards mobile youth, who is on the move and cannot be consistent on appointment viewing. The advertisers feel that if given a chance in India, the audience will always prefer TV over mobile while viewing any sport. However, investment on Starsports.com for IPL is achieving brand objectives with less investment on almost a similar target group.
Speaking to exchange4media, Amit Chopra, Head of Sales, STAR India shared, “The response from advertisers has been very encouraging. It is more than what we anticipated. IPL is a premium property and we are capitalising on the medium of mobile and digital. The cumulative reach of the tournament has gone up tremendously and we expect the response from advertisers to only increase in the future.”
Starsports.com recently claimed that it attracted around 47 lakh unique visitors across web and mobile, delivering over 1 crore of consumer visits in the first week of the tournament. Whether the investment made by the brands has reaped benefits or not will be judged when the tournament ends, but digital/ mobile as a medium to watch sport is gaining traction with the passage of time.
It may be noted that the rates mentioned above have not been confirmed by Star Sports in any form whatsoever.