Startups bring their A-game to IPL ads

Industry watchers note that newer age brands are trying to sell their product proposition with clutter-breaking ads more creatively than even legacy players

e4m by Misbaah Mansuri
Published: Apr 26, 2021 8:46 AM  | 8 min read
IPL ads

The most popular sporting event in the country IPL has been the biggest platform for several brands in India. While established brands have for years been pumping in huge advertising money, a string of homegrown startups are too not holding back. Now more than ever with time, these homegrown startups have managed to pull off new-age creative ads to appeal to the already short attention span of today’s millennials, thus making big brands run for their money. 

Betting big

Among the IPL ads this year, Anupama Ramaswamy, Managing Partner and National Creative Director, Dentsu Impact likes what CRED has been doing.” Their ads are irreverent, fun and engaging. They catch the attention and that really works,” she says.

Ramaswamy notes that startups are doing much better work than more established brands this season. “Dream11's work was not as good as it has been earlier. The year is the year for the ones who have the spends. Every marketer is saving for the rainy day. And that day comes as we speak. We all need to find innovative ways to stay relevant yet be mindful of the spends. Case in point the IKEA strategy of taking over every IPL ad with its own offering,” she adds. 

Furthermore, Ramaswamy contends that it is not about doing better by spending more, instead, it is about finding a brand’s voice in times that are unpredictable. 

Apart from TV, the rising popularity of OTT platforms have not gone unseen by brands who look to advertise. With lockdown in place and more spare time in hand, screen time for Indians has increased. A report by Ericsson Mobility reported that average Indians screen time increased by 2 hours during the lockdown.

Mitchelle Rozario Jansen- AVP Operations (West), WATConsult, too believes that the IPL spot for CRED caught her eye for several reasons. “The 'Great for the good' series has the internet in splits. Watching their celebrities in new avatars has been noted and how. When I saw the Rahul Dravid version, the marketer in me couldn't enjoy the ad as a mere audience. My brain began to churn thoughts on why this ad worked. Probably it's the influencers and ambassadors used in these ads; their personalities were analyzed well. Showcasing the contradiction of real-life vs reel life really paid off! 

"Sometimes you should let others do your talking. For amplification of the video, other influencers were leveraged to post the content out. UGC / ORM strategy needs to be tight. Anticipate the response to your content and keep the content handy to be able to participate in the conversation in real-time,” she observes.

For Shradha Agarwal, COO & Strategy Head- Grapes Digital, the ad that piqued her curiosity is also the CRED one with Rahul Dravid. "The ad crossed more than a million views within an hour of release which depicts how well it caught everyone’s attention. The film breaks the mould with a simple idea- and breaks the clutter. Very few ads get so much appreciation and go viral like this, and hence it becomes one of the best ads of the season.

"The other ad which is close to me is Dream11ad #TeamHaintohMazaaHai. The best part about the ad is that the gully cricket scenes melt your heart and excite you to watch the IPL," she said.

Dominating the ad ‘pitch’

Among the new entrants, digital stock brokerage Upstox recently beat Groww to become the official partner of the Indian Premier League (IPL), joining startups such as fantasy sports platform Dream11, e-payments firm CRED and edtech startup Unacademy, which are also sponsoring the T20 tournament with around ₹50 crore per year. 

Prashant Gopalakrishnan, Exec. Vice President & National Business Head, Dentsu Webchutney feel that this year’s IPL advertising has been a super-interesting mix. 

“While the usual green screen ads, shot with players within 45 minutes are still the flavour of the day, there are a lot of ads that have stood out in delivering creative excellence. CRED, Livspace have owned the absolute absurd genre. Special mention to Rahul Dravid’s performance. If ever there can be a clutter-breaker, this was it. It took social media by storm,” he says. 

Gopalakrishnan opines that brands like Dream 11, My11Circle have stood out by the sheer weight of monies pumped into media. "Not the biggest fan of their content, but it’s effective and repetitive. However, my favourite this IPL season is Unacademy. The integration is so seamless, that it almost looks like a part of the IPL Content. And it does not try too hard. It's cheeky in its own way without losing out on the clarity of messaging. They hit it out of the park last IPL as well with ‘Cracking the game’ - that makes it two times in a row.”

Snehja Sanganeria, Co-Founder, Meraqi, notes that startups that are striving to get their names printed on the minds of the audience, especially online apps or organisations that are not specific to regional audiences, are choosing to present their best work during IPL.

“These startups are almost drawing a parallel between how US brands treat SuperBowl. A major benefit of IPL ads has been heavy reach throughout the country, forcing the audience to take interest in the ads. More established brands have a wide reach already, making it easier for them to choose a more conventional method and opting for advertising in targeted groups,” she observes.

Sanganeria adds that while CRED ads have been the most popular of the lot, she can't help but lean towards Dream11 for how apt their campaign '#TeamHaiTohMazaaHai' has been. “Capturing the essence of the brand, the crux of IPL as well as reminding people of nostalgic times when they would do anything for their gully cricket team, these ads have hit home. There's no better platform or timing for these ads,” she contends.

Furthermore, Sanganeria hints that IPL 2021 ads have been refreshing as brands are trying their best to reach out to an audience that has been working from home through the year. “Appealing to the emotions of the audience, most of the ads are about making the audience laugh and enjoy the spirit of good times, after the year we've had. Celebrity endorsements have been another highlight for brand recall,” she says.

Homegrown startups have been investing heavily in IPL for the past two years. Edtech firm Byju’s spent ₹400-500 crore in advertising last year while gaming firm Dream11 spent ₹350-400 crore and My11Circle spent ₹150-250 crore, as per a Pitch Madison Advertising report published in February. Digital and television dominated ad spends.

Mehul Gupta, Co-Founder & CEO at SoCheers, observes that newer age brands are trying to sell their product proposition creatively, whereas the more established brands are going with direct brand communication with their acquired KOLs. 

"I believe all brands only get their best game to IPL, they use things they know will drive users to remember their product. Cricket in India enjoys such a variety of audiences that an Ajay Devgn ad for Vimal Gutkha or an ad by MPL - both are reaching their audiences well and are able to drive visibility for their brands equally,” says Gupta. 

Speaking about the ads that stood out for him, Gupta shares that brands like ads from Acko Insurance, CRED, MPL, Pharmeasy and Unacademy have ticked all the right boxes when it comes to their creativity and the freshness of the ideas used. 

“I think the one by Acko Insurance is good; it's a good use of talent and explains the brand proposition well. CRED is something that everyone is talking about. I think the approach is very fresh. MPL has done something really creative and groundbreaking and this campaign should be driving good conversions for them. Pharmeasy ads are also creative, short and direct to the point. I think Unacademy has nailed it by making a smart integration of the commentary box with the right casting. It looks less like an ad and more integral into the match itself,” he says.

Agarwal chimes in: "Nowadays, brands have to brainstorm new ideas to stand out in the surfeit of ads. This year ads from brands like MPL, Dream11, CRED and Unacademy have brilliantly caught viewers’ attention and have compelled other leading brands to turn their heads. The foremost reason is they are a digital-first brand and they are open to experimenting with several smaller ads of 15-40secs rather than putting everything in one long TVC format. By doing so, the possibilities are high that one of your ads will get viewers love and it will put the spotlight on the brand.

"The ads are produced so well that they do not feel forced but relates well with the audience. All of these ads, don’t amplify the brand's proposition or messaging straight into the consumers head but gives you engaging and entertaining content. The learning is that brands and agencies need to think of themselves as publishers and not advertisers and cater to their audience’s consumption patterns if they want to make a hit."

This year, all the matches are scheduled to be taking place at five venues — Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad, and Bangalore. The final of the tournament of the ongoing cricketing extravaganza will be played in Ahmedabad on May 29th, giving brands a world of marketing opportunities to capitalize on.

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Life after IPL: How new content & collaborations will keep JioCinema in the game

The platform has made several significant announcements, including a new lineup of web series and films and a subscription plan priced at Rs 999 per year

By Sonam Saini | Jun 8, 2023 8:45 AM   |   6 min read


JioCinema, the official streaming partner for the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023, logged record-breaking numbers during the more-than-two-month-long tournament, with over 12 crore unique visitors tuning in to watch the final match and the platform recording over 2.5 crore downloads in a single day. But now that the T20 league has concluded, it will be interesting to see how the platform makes the most of the momentum and keeps the viewers hooked. Experts suggest that JioCinema might not have the peak concurrent audience that it did during the IPL, but the new show launches and collaborations will help the platform retain its viewers as well as bring in new ones. 

Retention Game

Giving an idea of its strategy to retain the IPL viewers, the platform, before the final match, made several significant announcements, including a subscription plan priced at Rs 999 per year and a new lineup of web series and films. 

Decoding the platform’s content plan, Divya Dixit, Business Strategy and Growth Advisor, shares that JioCinema has done a few collaborations with various indian and international content partners like ALTT, Shemaroo, Voot, Warner Bros and NBC Universal to monetize and piggy back ride on the audiences that they have garnered through live streaming IPL. “The idea is on a larger vision of how to retain that audience and switch them over from being a free audience to a paid audience. I believe JioCinema will strive to do the same via multiple subscription plans, TVOD/SVOD as well as data packs.” 

Nitin Menon, Co-Founder of NV Capital, believes that JioCinema will do whatever it takes to retain the viewers. “Given the fact that they have launched the platform with original titles like Asur and Bloody Daddy as well as a substantial chunk of licensing content including movies like Vikram Vedha, they will be able to retain their subscriber base as majority of their content is free.”

However, experts also say that the platform might not see the same traction that it witnessed during the IPL as viewers then spent three-four hours watching the matches but might not spend the same time in a day on watching the other content. 

According to Karan Taurani, SVP, Elara Capital, AVOD platforms have relatively low retention power when compared to SVOD platforms where users pay a subscription fee. “Though JioCinema is building a strong content lineup, they can't have similar concurrent viewership seen during the IPL,” he says.

Taurani also shared that during the IPL, the amount of time spent by viewers on the platform was higher than the other months. “It may not be possible for the customer to watch content for such a long time every day. So definitely there could be a decline in terms of time spent and consumption. Around 50-60% drop in consumption patterns is definitely in the cards.” 

He added that in terms of number of subscribers, it would matter too much because it's an AVOD platform. “The Monthly Active Users (MAUs) numbers may still be high but Daily Active Users (DAUs) might fall by 60%. MAUs will not see a sharp fall because a subscriber will log into the platform at least once a month to watch any original web series, but the daily consumption pattern will see a sharp fall,” he suggested.

Content is King 

JioCinema has announced several new titles and collaborations.“They want to be the new kid on the block where OTT is concerned. And looking at the overall trend of Jio, I won’t be surprised if they start going exceedingly aggressive in the OTT market whether it’s originals or movies or even sports for that matter,” explains Menon. 

Dixit added these collaborations allow them to work with a tighter ROI system and ability to scale up. “Since HBO has several eclectic shows that the metro audience have an interest in, they are sure to garner niche loyalty from there. Furthermore, Voot & Shemaroo offer Hindi as well as regional content and ALTT offers Hindi content; that acts as a stepping stone towards establishing Jio as one of the main OTT platforms in Bharat. The regional market has a huge potential for growth, and Jio will build on that. “

Subscription Model

With the subscription plan priced at Rs 999 a year, will JioCinema remain an attractive choice in the market and see more viewers coming in?

Taurani shared, “They've just started the SVOD mechanism. They're trying to target premium customers who want to watch content ad-free. HBO on Disney+ Hotstar accounted for not more than 1-2% of their paid subscriber base. The number of customers who will consume that content is very small and that market already is highly fragmented. We've got Netflix, Amazon and they've got a lot of other global content as well. So I don't see people paying Rs 1000 in large numbers specifically for these two catalogs. Definitely it could add some to the overall subscriber base but not in a big way. It will be a very small boost.”

Last month, the platform announced a partnership with NBCUniversal (NBCU) to bring thousands of hours of NBCU films and TV series to India. NBCU’s programming will live in a Peacock branded hub starting next month on JioCinema’s newly announced “JioCinema Premium” SVOD tier. Here, viewers will have access to first-run series like Young Rock and others. 

Dixit Opined, “Indian audiences are definitely price- sensitive and JioCinema, in the longer run, will bring in that economy because they will behave like an aggregator along with offering exclusive content. An efficient pricing strategy is always a sure-shot way to enable a huge influx of subscribers especially when you rope in great data plans.”

Menon concluded that JioCinema is in for a long haul and they have all the intentions and the money power to be among the top players in the OTT market. “Incase they feel that they are not gaining the necessary traction as to the subscriber base, I won't be surprised to see them tweak the model to attract subscribers aggressively.” 

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15 new categories advertised during IPL 16

According to a TAM report, Pan Masala continued to be the top spender on TV during all matches this season

By e4m Desk | Jun 3, 2023 8:46 AM   |   2 min read


As many as 15 new categories advertised during the 16th season of IPL, which concluded on May 29, compared to the previous season, an IPL advertising report by TAM has revealed.

According to the report, out of all 74 matches of IPL 16, the latter half of the matches saw a growth of 5% in total ad volume compared to the first 37 matches of this tournament.

The tally of categories, advertisers and brands also rose by 18%, 22% and 9%, respectively, during the last 37 matches compared to first the 37 matches this season, it said.

Pan Masala was the top advertiser this season, beating fantasy sports gaming /eCom gaming.

The report also said that top five advertising categories in IPL 16 accounted for 52% of the ad volume compared to 39% in IPL 15.

The top five categories were Pan Masala (15%), eCom-gaming (13%), biscuits (9%), aerated soft drink (9 %), and cellular phone service (6%).

Among the new categories, Biscuits topped the list followed by Dryfruit.

During the last IPL, eCom -gaming was the top spender followed by eCom-wallets, Pan Masala, eCom-Education and eCom-Online Shopping.

During IPL 16, the top five sponsors contributed 37% of ad volume, while the top five in IPL 15 accounted for 24% of ad share.

Sporta Technologies and K P Pan Foods were among the top 5 advertisers for both the seasons.

As per the report, the top 5 brands contributed 30% share of ad volumes in IPL 16, while the top 5 of IPL 15 contributed 21%., Kamala Pasand Silver Coated Elaichi and Tataneu App were among the Top 5 brands in both seasons.

The report also analysed ad length during commercial breaks during the IPL.

“During commercial breaks, 11-20 second ads were the most preferred, followed by less than 10-second ads. Ads with 40+ seconds had only 0.1% ad insertion share,” the report said.

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Chennai Super Kings has highest fan loyalty: Rediffusion Red Lab

Rediffusion Red Lab tracked and analysed fan involvement of all IPL teams over the past two months

By e4m Desk | Jun 1, 2023 10:19 AM   |   2 min read


Rediffusion’s Red Lab, which tracks consumer behaviour, has rated Chennai Super Kings (CSK) as No. 1 on fandom at the close of the current IPL.

Mumbai Indians are a not-so-close second while Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) are a distant third. The Rediffusion Red Lab team tracked and analysed fan involvement of all teams over the past two months, interviewing/meeting/interacting with 1213 fans of all the ten teams that played in the tournament.

What is fandom? It is simply fan loyalty to a team.

How is fandom calculated? The first sign is hand-raising or clear identification - Yes, I support this team. Keeping track of the favourite team’s scores or performance is the first stage of belongingness. Watching the team matches on television or staying abreast with its live play on digital is the next layer. ‘The team and its players are in my conversations with family and friends’ cements fandom further. Buying merchandise and going to the stadium to watch and cheer the choice team is the acme of fandom.

CSK has a top score of 79%, MI are at 72% and RCB 61%. Of the new teams, Gujarat Titans (GT) has not done badly with a 58% score that places them in the fifth place, just a notch behind 4th ranked Kolkata Knight Riders who scored 59%.

Sunrisers Hyderabad (32%) are last in the rankings and Delhi Capitals at 37% are second last at the tail.

‘This is a study of the glue that binds a team and its fans. The IPL has been around for 16 years now - sufficient time has elapsed for choices to be made, loyalty to be shaped and for fans to either love a team or be indifferent to it,” says Dr Sandeep Goyal, Managing Director of Rediffusion.

Interestingly 42% of CSK’s fan base is from outside of Chennai. So, loyalty is not driven by city/geographical affiliation or residence alone. Not surprisingly 72% fans attribute their affinity and preference for CSK to MS Dhoni. Rohit Sharma at MI is way lower at 23% but Virat Kohli scores better at 51% for RCB. For Lucknow Giants (LG), KL Rahul does well at 49%.

Fandom, feels Dr Goyal, is also a function of team success. The success of CSK, MI and the quick rise of GT have endeared them to their fans.

Rediffusion’s Red Lab tracks trends across genres. This study was conducted across all 10 IPL team franchisee locations.

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IPL 2023: 29 of 48 matches recorded peak concurrency of more than 3 cr on TV

As per BARC data, while CSK vs PK played on April 30 garnered 3.5 crore, the RR and MI and PK versus MI games got 4 crore and 3.5 crore of peak concurrency in viewership, respectively 

By e4m Desk | May 12, 2023 6:27 PM   |   1 min read


The ongoing Indian Premier League saw 29 of 48 matches register peak concurrency of more than 3 crore on TV. According to BARC data, three more matches have crossed the peak concurrency of 3 crore on TV, taking the total to 29.

While CSK vs PK played on April 30 garnered 3.5 crore of peak concurrency, the RR and MI and PK versus MI games played on April 30 and May 3, respectively, garnered 4 crore and 3.5 crore of peak concurrency in viewership. 

The first match between Gujarat Titans vs Chennai Super Kings match garnered the highest viewership and is leading the top ten list with 5.6 crore, followed by CSK vs RCB (24th match) with 5.2 crore. The 33rd match of the season garnered 5.1 crore of peak concurrency. 

Meanwhile, the sixth match of the season between CSK vs LSG saw peak concurrent viewership of 5 crore. The fifth match between RCB and MI saw 4.6 crore peak viewership. While the ninth match between KKR and RCB saw viewership of 4.5 crore, the 12th match between MI and CSK saw 4.5 crore. 

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JioCinema ties up with NEWJ to drive digital distribution of IPL

As part of the association, the match highlights are promoted in six languages

By e4m Desk | May 12, 2023 2:02 PM   |   1 min read


JioCinema, the official digital streaming partner of TATA IPL, has tied up with media-tech startup NEWJ (New Emerging World of Journalism) to increase the digital distribution of the 16th edition of the TATA IPL. As part of the collaboration, NEWJ promoted the match highlights in six languages including Bengali, Tamil, Marathi, Bhojpuri, Punjabi and Hindi across its social media platforms.

Cricket is often considered a religion in India, and JioCinema has democratised the TATA IPL by making it free to watch across the corners of the country. In addition to taking the matches to screens in every nook and corner, JioCinema wants to offer viewers the option to watch their favourite team play in languages that feel most familiar to them. NEWJ, a social-first, video-only publisher, has harnessed its presence in regional markets to amplify this mission.

“JioCinema is a pioneer in how India consumes sports and entertainment. At NEWJ, we function on the mantra, stories of India, for India and by India. With this collaboration we are taking the TATA IPL to the vernacular and regional markets who consume content on social media on their smartphones”, Kunal Chaudhary, co-founder, NEWJ said of the partnership. As per a report by Synchronize India and Unomer 73 per cent of viewers stream IPL 2023 on JioCinema, while only 27 per cent watch it on television.

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IPL 2023 on TV crosses last season's reach by 21%: BARC data

The cumulative reach on Star Sports for live broadcast of 48 matches stands at 451 million unique audience

By e4m Desk | May 11, 2023 7:01 PM   |   1 min read


The Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023 on Star Sports broke last year's record. According to the BARC data for 48 matches shared by the broadcaster, the cumulative reach for live broadcast of 48 matches stood at 451 million unique audience. It's 21% higher as compared to last year's full season's reach. Also, it's 33% higher than last year's season with the same number of matches.

According to the broadcaster, the highest ever reach garnered in HSM, North and West in the history of IPL. It is also highest ever reach in states like Gujarat, Maharashtra, UP, Rajasthan, MP, Bihar, Pune/ Haryana/HP, Odisha and Bangalore and second highest ever in Delhi, Mumbai and Karnataka.

Meanwhile, TV saw 266 billion minutes consumption for the first 48 matches – which is the second highest ever (excluding COVID years).

Additionally, there is also growth of 29% in TVR for the first 48 matches. 

The league also recorded the highest HD reach of 86 million which is 3.4 times higher than the last year's season.

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Over 1300 cr video views clocked in first 5 weeks of IPL 2023: JioCinema

As per the streaming platform, the average time spent per viewer per match has touched 60 minutes

By e4m Desk | May 11, 2023 12:05 PM   |   1 min read


JioCinema, the official digital streaming partner of TATA IPL 2023, has reported clocking over 1300 crore video views in the first five weeks. As per the streaming platform, the average time spent per viewer per match also touched 60 minutes. TATA IPL 2023 on Connected TV reached twice the number of viewers than that on HD TV, it said.

“JioCinema continues to grow from strength to strength every week and it is based on clear evidence of consumer’s outright preference of catching the TATA IPL on digital,” said Viacom18 Sports CEO Anil Jayaraj. “The combination of outstanding cricket action and our robust platform proved the stellar opening weekend was just the beginning of bigger things to come. I would like to thank all our sponsors, advertisers, and partners for showing faith in our journey as we continue to elevate every fan’s TATA IPL viewing experience.”

As per JioCinema, it breached the peak concurrency records of TATA IPL twice in a span of five days. On April 12th, it clocked a 2.23-crore peak during the Chennai Super Kings vs Rajasthan Royals match. In the Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Chennai Super Kings fixture, JioCinema says it broke the record again with a concurrency of 2.4 crore.

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