Could IPL franchises piggyback on Star India’s dynamic social media and digital presence?

Star India is known for its dynamic presence on social media and just like franchises in the PKL, could IPL franchises go from the current “superpower” status to another level all together?

e4m by Ronald Menezes
Updated: Sep 6, 2017 7:33 AM

A sport is all about battles between two opponents and these days, battlefields have been added. It has moved away from the conventional “at stadium” brawls between fans of opposing teams, to the current digital platform. 


Every IPL franchise has its presence on the digital platforms but what will change in the coming edition is their parent broadcaster. The rights have moved from Sony to Star India and this may also see a swing of fortune for an IPL team’s digital presence. 


In a story that could be scripted in a similar way, the 12 Pro Kabaddi League franchises have been benefiting with @StarSportsIndia doing everything to keep its fans updated with the latest happenings. Apart from PKL doing its part by promoting the sport on its twitter handle, Star Sports puts in an immense effort in bringing the sport to life on social media by tweeting and re-tweeting posts.


Gautam Mehra, Chief Data Officer, Dentsu Aegis Network India, said, “From a social media perspective, the franchises will definitely benefit, Star Sports is known for great content across mediums. That along with the distribution that they have, will help the franchises immensely.” 


He said that Star’s digital platform Hotstar used IPL to grow its own user base. Mehra added, “I think Star saw the immense value of not just the broadcast revenue but also what it does for its future-ready digital business, so I think it's a smart move. Coming to whether it would do better for the less popular franchises, I'm not sure. IPL is heavily regulated by the BCCI. What can band cannot be said is still determined a lot by BCCI and the franchise themselves rather than the broadcaster.”  


When we look at the eight teams’ presence on Twitter, Mumbai Indians leads the lot with 3.23 million followers, followed by KKR (3.17 million,) CSK (2.86 million,) RCB (2.35 million,) SRH (1.43 million,) KXIP (1.42 million,) DD (936 thousand) and the least for RR (880 thousand). These are way larger compared to PKL franchises for obvious reasons such as PKL being a niche sport is consumed by a niche audience. 


Star Sports India’s twitter handle @StarSportsIndia has 3.38 million followers as compared to Sony Network’s @SPNSportsIndia (1.8 million.)


With a vast reach and dynamic presence on digital platforms, Star seems to have the upper hand. We asked Siddharth Hegde, CEO, Ethinos, if IPL franchises would benefit just like its PKL counterparts. He said, “The comparison between cricket and Kabbadi will end up being slightly unfair as the cricketing ecosystem is already eons ahead. With the teams, players and sporting body (IPL) being a lot more evolved than Kabaddi.”


Hegde also added that since Star is more aggressive, overall we could see huge growth in the social fan bases of the teams. “This can also throw up interesting opportunities for teams to do co-branded content and material for their social channels. There is also a lot more maturity in the monetization of digital content and the primary means of propagating this content will clearly be social,” he concluded. 


With the advent of the new season of IPL next year, we will know how the franchises would eventually benefit and win the social media battle. 

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