Advertisers cheer for IPL as league opens to record viewership of 20 crore

Host of brands that have invested in the league see an uptick in user engagement after initial few matches of the season

e4m by Tasmayee Laha Roy
Updated: Sep 28, 2020 5:01 PM
IPL 2020

While the Covid-19 pandemic has brought gloom and despair across sectors, it seems to have brought cheer among advertisers who opted to invest in Indian Premier League (IPL) this season. Going by the trends of the first few matches, advertisers are very happy with the kind of viewership IPL has seen despite Hotstar putting up a pay wall for the league.

Housing.com for instance has seen a 25%-30% jump in new users when compared to numbers from the previous week. “We were there on the first day of the match itself, both on digital and television, and the leading indicators show a massive season ahead. We are positive that the momentum will continue to pick up and help us in our brand building exercise,” says Snehil Gautam, Head, Growth and Marketing, Housing.com, Makaan.com and PropTiger.com.

However it is not just Housing.com. A host of other brands associated with the league saw their campaigns gain momentum after the opening weekend of the season.

Talking of momentum, an unprecedented 20 crore (200 million) people watched the opening IPL match between Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings on September 19 on TV and digital. As many as 0.81 crore (8.1 million) logged on to Disney + Hotstar to watch the first match of season 13.

“The numbers are only expected to grow from here. The audience is watching fresh content of this stature after a long haul and the viewership numbers, both on digital and TV, show how much they waited for this. We are certain the number will grow many folds in the later stages. Close to 300 brands that have invested in IPL in one way or the other will benefit from their association with the tournament like no other season before,” says Kaushal Agarwal, VP-Client Operations, Merkle Sokrati, DAN.

Advertisers were skeptical about viewership dipping and impacting their brand visibility in the long run with IPL matches going behind the pay wall this season.  The opening weekend’s numbers come as a sigh of relief for stakeholders as reach and visibility remain unaffected by the pay wall factor.

“Simply put, IPL was behind the pay wall earlier as well, just that the telco partnership did not happen this year,” says Ankoor Dasguupta, Senior Partner – Digital, OMD Mudramax.

Explaining what works for IPL this season, Dasguupta shares, “If we combine all factors such as the timing, first time IPL covering festive season, probably Dhoni’s last stint, in addition to the anticipation that got built in past few months, there will be more niche audience this time. Hotstar subscription is something that is quite affordable at scale. In specific, this situation for the 2020 IPL may have made things even more conducive to both advertising business and viewership.”

“The fact that day 1 of Dream11 IPL started with an overwhelming response and unprecedented scale, and there are more than 100 advertisers for this season, says it all,” he adds.

Aakash Educational Services Limited that launched their new ad campaign on Hotstar this weekend is seeing a 40% bump in inbound calls to centres and back offices enquiring about courses in the last two days. “The perfect blend of sports and entertainment has worked in favour of the league and helped us build brand awareness. As marketers, we hope the numbers sustain themselves and help us achieve the kind of ROI we are looking at,” says Anurag Jagati, Head of Marketing at Aakash Educational Services Limited.

Then there are those like Polycab. “The opening matches were exciting, and as the pressure builds up on the teams, we would see matches with tighter ends and that’s when the viewership will peak. For us to see visible impact on our ROI, we will have to wait for at least a fortnight,” opines A Vijay Narayanan, President, Strategic Marketing at Polycab India Limited.

However it is not just return on investment that brands are looking at. Those like Usha International have long term plans around IPL. In their seventh consecutive year as an official partner with the Mumbai Indians, Usha International is looking at introducing new initiatives this season. “IPL is bringing in positivity and a sense of normalcy for the brand. We are certain that the excitement around the season will only grow and so will the viewership,” says Komal Mehra, who heads Sports Initiatives and Associations at Usha International.

Experts foresee the season to break more records. “On  12th May 2019, Hotstar had around 18.6M concurrent users on CSK Vs MI Finale. It is also to do with the ‘experience’ of watching and I see this as more of an active viewing experience than passive. Social engagement (moderated live comments, photo sharing and emoji reactions) plus gaming elements (Watch' N Play), there is so much for a user to ‘engage’ and ‘share’. That’s all we need right?” says Dasguupta.

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