While radio has always come to the rescue of lakhs of cricket fans who are not able to watch the matches on TV, the Indian Premier League (IPL) is proving to be different ballgame altogether. Given the stringent restrictive coverage clause fans who do not have access to TV have to access various websites to keep tab of the score. But succour is there in the form of live streaming of the matches on YouTube. And this has got not just cricket fans, but advertisers too all excited.
Commenting on the responses that the YouTube streamings have got so far, Narasimha Jayakumar, Business Head, Google India, said, “We are very happy with the phenomenal response from the viewers. Users are excited about experiencing their favourite sport in a brand new environment and channel views have gone up to 31 million.”
Jayakumar believed that YouTube gave marketers the ability to find virtually any audience they wanted to target and create for these viewers advertising that allowed them to interact with their brand via engaging ad formats that matched the content and experience they were enjoying on the site.
On the responses from advertisers so far, he said, “From the beginning we wanted to focus on limited number of advertisers to offer their sponsors maximum mileage. There are no category exclusive deals, most of the advertisers are existing clients and they have been extremely enthusiastic to join hands with us in this initiative. Each sponsor is getting six league matches, wherein they will get the spotlight and our premium sponsors RCB, HSBC and HP will get additional slots for the semi-finals and the final. These apart, other sponsors are Samsung, Airtel, Coca-Cola and Hero Honda.”
Since this is a very new concept, in terms of technology it might take some time to get over the initial technical glitches. Speaking on the teething problems that YouTube had had Jayakumar, commented, “There were some issues on the quality and capacity, but we were able to quickly make amends and offer our users good quality experience. We have ramped up our capacity because the demand is constantly increasing and have also taken steps to improve the quality of the streams.”
Giving media planner’s point of view, Janardan Pandey, Business Director, Mudra Radar, said, “YouTube has helped IPL to extend the reach across global markets and also capture audience who are not in front of a TV set when the match is on. So far, it has been able to draw audience from countries like the UAE, the UK, the US, besides India.”
When asked whether the YouTube live streaming had impact IPL match viewership on TV, Pandey replied, “TV viewership is measured through meter-based technology, which is placed in homes and home viewership will not get affected as you can watch the proceedings live on TV, whereas on YouTube it is delayed live by at least five minutes.”
He further said that there were other issues like the speed of the connection and the size/ quality of picture on YouTube. “So, YouTube is viable only when somebody is not in front of a TV set or coming from a global market, where there is no live signal on TV,” Pandey added.
Speaking on the role that digital media can play for big events like IPL Google’s Jayakumar stressed, “Digital technology will be increasingly used for all aspects of live sports coverage. Globally, live sports are one of the most sought after programming from an advertising standpoint. Replays and custom highlights will also be revolutionised by digital technology, and increasingly we see on-demand serving of content becoming wide spread.”