With ‘Koi Yaar Nahi Far’, Hotstar eyes 300 mn-plus viewers this IPL

Hotstar’s Executive Vice President Sidharth Shakdher, and SVP & Head, Client and Agency, Gulshan Verma talk about people connecting with family & friends over cricket despite being far from each other

e4m by Moumita Bhattacharjee
Published: Mar 12, 2019 8:31 AM  | 5 min read

With the 12th season of the Indian Premiere League set to kick off from March 23, Hotstar is ready with its new motto of ‘Koi Yaar Nahi Far’ to make this year more of a family experience than going solo. 

In 2018, the app saw 202 million viewers logged on to it to watch the matches. This season, the goal is to go beyond the 300-million mark and Hotstar strongly believes that providing viewers an opportunity to watch the matches along with their friends and family will aid them in this mission.

We spoke to Sidharth Shakdher, Executive Vice President, Hotstar, and Gulshan Verma, SVP & Head, Client and Agency, Hotstar, to understand what exactly the streamer was trying to achieve with this campaign.

Speaking about the thought process behind the campaign, Shakdher said: “After we spoke to consumers post IPL last year, we found they really thought of cricket as a game where they could be with their friends and family. The joy they experience from cricket multiplies then. On a regular basis, it is very difficult to get your friends and family together. It can happen once in a while. It could be because today’s environment doesn’t let you come together all the time. This is the basic thought behind our motto ‘Koi Yaar Nahi Far’. 

“You can add people from your phone book to watch the match with you, play the game with you. We also have a friends and family leaderboard, there will be another leaderboard about everyone who is playing it all over India. You can chat with your friends and family as well.” 

Hotstar conducted focus group studies, in-depth interviews and ethnography to gauge what the consumers were looking for this season and that’s what gave rise to this campaign.

Shakdher also spoke about how people want to stay connected with their families while watching cricket, even if they were far. “Small town migration is going on big time right now. People who move to big cities have friends and family in the place they have come from. It’s about upward mobility in life. It is the reflection of the brand. People want to keep growing but they also want to be connected to their roots. It’s another way of staying in touch with their friends and family,” he said. Shakdher also mentioned how during their research they found that consumers had to think hard to recollect the last time they had watched cricket with their friends and family. 

In a global first, Hotstar is offering ad slots targeting live sports this year. Advertisers will be able to target 24 different cohorts during the live streaming. When asked about the kind of response they were getting at present, Gulshan Verma said: “There has been a very strong response. There are two ways in which people are leveraging it – one is as a brand that is relevant in a specific geography, you will be doing advertising for that category. The other way is advertiser portfolio products. Some products are national, some are regional. In the past, you had to figure out which brands you could put on IPL on Hotstar. But now you are saying: ‘I can leverage all my brands’.” 

When asked if there was a set parameter to choose an advertiser, Verma said: “I think it is based on advertiser feedback and demand. Ultimately, it depends on advertisers and which audience they look for.”

The streaming platform has also partnered with Swiggy with a pop-up menu, which will list down all the favourites. “The goal is that the user shouldn’t miss a single moment of cricket. Our partnership with Swiggy is all about allowing users to order their favourites from the Hotstar app. I am a big fan of cricket. I don’t want to step out when the game is on. This way, I can order my favourite in a very short time and still watch the game,” Verma said. This is Hotstar's move to create greater value for the consumers and making their lives easier.

Hotstar also has a lot in store for viewers who are regulars on Watch 'N Play. The winners can redeem their points via Amazon Pay. “We launched our Watch 'N Play partnership last year. What we are seeing is that people who are much more engaged in the game spend 3 times as much time on the platform. They share emojis and stuff, and for a stronger personal experience you can log in and compete with your friends and family. The points that you win can be leveraged with Amazon Pay. That’s the important value we provide to the consumers.”

Hotstar wants to go beyond 300 million viewers this season. Shakdher asserted: “We are confident we might even exceed 300 million this time because last year people who engaged with the experience of gaming along with the match spend more time than who just watched the match.” 

Supporting the sentiment, Gulshan Verma said: “I think there is hunger for cricket and it extends to online as well. Our experience last year was that the engagement time or watch time was almost 3.5x than the previous year. That is our biggest learning right now, and we are expecting that number to go up to 300 million this year.” 

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