IPL 2020 is an opportunity to showcase the power of inspired thinking: Sanjog Gupta

The newly appointed Head of Star Sports in an exclusive interview with e4m talks about the challenges of delivering a bigger and better IPL despite COVID led constraints

e4m by Naziya Alvi Rahman
Published: Oct 15, 2020 8:40 AM  | 10 min read
sanjog gupta

The 13th season of Dream11 IPL would have been a distant dream if it was not for the heavy investments of Disney Star India in innovation and technology. To execute this mammoth event seamlessly in these times of COVID, the group has created a bio-bubble managing close to 1200 people in India and UAE. To understand more about the process that has gone into executing the season, exchange4media spoke to Sanjog Gupta, Head – Sports, Star India. Edited excerpts:- 

In the absence of live spectators, fan engagement was a big challenge for this season of Dream11 IPL. How have you used the innovations in production and tech to bring fans closer to the game?

The first shift in mindset that we needed was to move away from the thinking that many things are not going to be there and we must compensate for those things. At the end of the day, the game is played on the field and what we needed to do is to take that game and present it in a way where consumers, fans and viewers feel engaged. We were creating a unique viewing experience, which meant starting from zero. So challenging every convention that we have right from camera angles to sound. We looked at every element of the game in isolation for the viewing experience to be better than what it was in the past. 

We needed to do a lot more close up shots because we didn’t want to show empty stands. The proposition for this year's IPL is that you are going to be closer to your players than ever before. Typically, the game would be covered with a lot of wide shots and a lot of the stadium being seen so you wouldn’t see Dhoni’s expression when he hits a six. One of the propositions we built this year is that viewers will be able to look into their favourite player’s eyes and read his expressions. Thus, we changed the entire camera configuration for the stadium. We added 10 additional cameras this year. We have dressed up the stadiums differently with a lot of electronic perimeter boards with a lot of messaging to amp up the atmosphere and bring colour in the stadium. 

The sound was a big challenge because it is one of those things that you don’t notice that when it is there but you do notice it when it’s not there. We looked at the last two IPL’s and studied the sounds and sound design of 100 matches played across the last two IPLs in 2018 and 2019. We broke those sounds of the matches into categories across players who were playing, teams who were playing and the opposition. The sounds of a Kings XI Punjab vs Delhi Capitals is different from the sound of an RCB vs CSK. The sound of different cricketers winning are also different. We re-recorded that sound. As the matches are happening we playback that sound on the broadcast so the audience doesn’t miss it. 

We made the sound interactive with the ‘Cheer from Home’ service which allows you to use Disney+Hotstar emojis while watching the game to trigger chants in the stadium when a particular cricketer comes out. 

This has been a very tech-heavy edition requiring many innovations. How was the back end managed given the unpredictability of this edition a few months ago?

We wanted fans at home to feel connected to the game because when you see empty stands in the stadium it is very easy to disconnect. So we started something called the Virtual Match Ticket, which is a Fan Wall initiative. Viewers of IPL can effectively register to be a fan in the broadcast. Which means from your phone or your laptop or interactive screen that you can log on to the game. As soon as you log on, you get to watch the game. Secondly, our production set up is given access to our camera where we can record it or go live to it. Fans from cities who would never be able to go to the stadium are getting to be a part of the broadcast, getting to cheer for their players and being seen that they are cheering for their players. We wanted to ensure that a sport which is largely a community-driven experience feels like a community-driven experience on-air by these Fan Walls which have on any given day hundreds of fans on them. That’s the sentiment of togetherness that we want to drive to our broadcast. 

Using a custom-built software that we had we are now able to connect with any commentator anywhere and bring him to commentary as they watch it live from their respective locations. We have used technology to enhance the viewing experience by giving viewers access to many more commentators they would typically have. There are commentators at the venue and in Mumbai at our Biosecure bubble as well. We have remote link-ups with commentators not just India but around the world. We will have Nasir Hussain, former England captain joining us next week on commentary and not needing to travel. This tech piece has enabled us to deliver enhanced viewing experience despite the constraints that COVID presents.  

There has been great visibility of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) this season and the possibilities of these technologies for programming seem massive. What does Star have in store for the second half?

We have an interesting initiative coming in the next few weeks where by using AR we are going to take thousands of pictures of fans who have sent us their pictures and use them to create a collage of their favourite player inside the stadium. Think of it like a massive mosaic where your picture is a part of the thousands of pictures of fans that creates a picture of Dhoni. 

In VR we have models of all three stadiums of Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Dubai and enabling our commentators to wear a headset and enter the stadium in a virtual world. This innovation means that our commentators can go into a moment and explain to our viewers why it was special. So we had Brian Lara playing deliveries from Rashid Khan and the commentaries from this VR. In AR we have been using the locales because one of the things that we want to establish is the spectacle which is IPL. We have been using the locales of UAE, Dubai and the cities of Dubai to project a lot of massive AR images. So the Burj Kalifa had a huge virtual picture of the KKR team to build that hype around the fact that IPL is in UAE this year. 

We have also used AR for the analysis commenters do when they are at the venue. We have used this opportunity to bring onboard technology which is not even in use anywhere else in the world and much of it hasn’t been deployed on sport or broadcast. 

You have created perhaps one of the biggest biosecure bubbles to execute this process. Can you please take us through the process of creating these bubbles in India and UAE?

We studied the concept of biosecure bubbles because it's a concept not unique to the sport. It comes from the field of science which is creating a biosecure bubble which prevents contamination and prevents contagion. One you can not let any foreign undesirable element in and two if a foreign undesirable element is in then it doesn’t infect others. Those are two principles of a biosecure bubble. There was a lot of research that we did on biosecure bubbles. Then we had a panel of doctors who worked with us to advise on COVID related matters. We also looked at models of biosecure bubbles used by other broadcasters around the world but what we found was that most of these models were not relevant for us as we thought they would be. Our biosecure bubble is a lot more stringent and secure than the benchmark set by these biosecure bubbles. The biosecure bubble in Mumbai between Trident and our production facility in Lower Parel every member servicing the IPL is inside the biosecure bubble including the drivers, pantry boys, the service staff, chefs hotel staff, etc. 

This investment we decided to make for this years’ IPL was truly towards the cause of changing the national sentiment in this country. It was towards the cause of togetherness, building community and making people feel better about their lives. 

This was something we needed to do for millions of fans who have given the sport and given us so much in the last few years. It is a way for us to give them back their smiles and give them back that togetherness you feel when you watch a game together. 

Star produces six language feeds, given the fact that this year a lot of it has been done from WFH set-up how have you managed it? 

It was a challenge. The temptation when we started on this journey was to potentially curtail the expanse of the production and broadcast. But when we thought about it we just felt that if IPL means as much as it does to millions of viewers in this country it is not fair for us to take the easy way out of accepting the situation as it stands and working within the constraints than to reimagine how the production can happen to deliver an output that still matches the expectations of people. Once we had the purpose of delivering a bigger and better IPL in mind even if there were constraints, everything else was about how you challenge yourself to think differently and reimagine every little thing that you do to overcome the challenges that the constraints present. That’s what we went about doing. Credit to the entire team and every individual of the team who came forward to make this sacrifice because everyone is away from their families for 60-75 days living in a biosecure bubble which is not easy. Everyone was so driven to deliver this not just because it’s in the service of the fans of this great game but also because it is truly an opportunity to showcase in the world what inspired thinking can deliver even in the toughest of times and which is what we have gone about doing. This will be a benchmark from others to learn from and we have also got queries from other broadcasters across the globe to understand how we have gone about doing this.

The Select Dugout Studio was revamped for this edition. Take us through some of the innovations there?  

Select Dugout is the most premium feed that we produce. It has a state of the art modern tech studio. The kind of tech that we put into that studio doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world. Ranging from VR to AR to motion sensors to virtual sets. That feed is meant for true blue cricket fans who want an experience that is more game than the normal feed provides. The proposition for this year’s Select Dugout was ‘More Game, Per Game’ which is basically when you come to watch Select Dugout you get to understand the game better, your players better and get the opportunity to get deeper into the game. It is a premium feed that the top per cent of cricket consumers watch and they love it because you have Brian Lara talking about what makes Rishabh Pant special or not and more. 

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Noise appoints Gaurav Mehta as Chief Marketing Officer

He had been associated with brands such as Yahoo, OLX, Car Dekho and Zupee

By exchange4media Staff | Mar 31, 2023 4:33 PM   |   2 min read

Gaurav mehta

Noise, a connected lifestyle tech brand, has announced the appointment of Gaurav Mehta as its Chief Marketing Officer.

In his role as Chief Marketing Officer, Gaurav will be leading the marketing function through his strategic initiatives and will be responsible for devising strategies and overseeing overall marketing efforts that will in turn reinforce strong brand building and revenue growth in the long run. Working alongside the founders, Gaurav will identify key marketing opportunities and have responsibilities that range from creative influence to marketing strategies.

Commenting on the new appointment, Amit Khatri, Co-Founder, Noise said, “As we scale up exponentially, our team of experts continues to grow as well. We welcome Gaurav to the Noise family. His rich functional experience and unique blend of business acumen and creativity is just the accelerator we need to venture from here. I am certain that with him joining the leadership team, we are primed for greater milestones.”

Sharing his views on his new role, Gaurav Mehta, Chief Marketing Officer, Noise said, “I am thrilled to be a part of the dynamic team at Noise. Noise has established itself as a market leader in the smart wearable industry with an exceptional growth trajectory. With this new journey, I am confident I will put my knowledge and experience towards building a stronger brand connect.”

Gaurav comes with a career span of over two decades. Prior to joining Noise, he was leading the marketing function at key organizations across sectors such as technology, IT and online gaming. He has been associated with brands such as Yahoo, OLX, Car Dekho and Zupee. Being an entrepreneur himself, he has also come to understand the pangs and timelines that are required in nurturing fledgling companies and creating well thought out systems.

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Glance and JioCinema partner for IPL 2023

As part of association, consumers will enjoy a ‘lock-screen-to-app’ viewing

By exchange4media Staff | Mar 31, 2023 4:26 PM   |   3 min read


Glance has partnered with JioCinema, the digital partner of TATA IPL. As a result of this partnership, over 200 million Glance consumers will enjoy a seamless “lock screen to app” viewing experience for the first time in the country.

“This partnership between Glance and JioCinema will bring a personalized and premium experience to cricket fans who can stay connected with all the on and off-field happenings throughout the 2023 TATA IPL season. They will receive visually rich and exciting content on their lock screens powered by the JioCinema app,” read arelease.

By tapping on their favourite content, fans will be led to live TATA IPL coverage on JioCinema if it is already installed on their smartphone; in case consumers do not have JioCinema app on their smartphone, they will be directed to download the app for them to experience the league. This experience will be available to consumers across all leading Android smartphones in India that are powered by Glance.

Additionally, consumers will be able to enjoy exclusive Glance-led T20 content such as latest scores, match updates and highlights of their favourite teams and players directly on their lock screen. Consumers will also be able to watch expert match analysis, team discussions, player selection insights, performance evaluations, live chat sessions with cricketers, and watch parties for the season’s matches. With several innovative features, cricket enthusiasts across the country will be able to stay up to date with the latest, real-time news and insights through Glance lock screen and JioCinema app.

“Our proposition to fans for the TATA IPL is all about elevating their live-sport viewing experience. We are excited to partner with Glance because our association allows us to build on this proposition and provide a convenient and personalized experience for cricket fans to stay up to speed with the latest in the league directly from their lock screens,” said Hursh Shrivastava, Head of Strategy and Partnership for Sports, Viacom18. “Both Glance and JioCinema have been disrupting how consumers experience content digitally, and this partnership brings that disruption to how cricket will be experienced going forward.”

Bikash Choudhury, Chief Marketing Officer, Glance, said “Glance is designed to surface the best of the internet to consumers directly on their lock screens. Our partnership with JioCinema brings together the best of two worlds – lock screen and app – to create a unique viewng experience for cricket fans. They will now be able to catch updates and highlights of T20 cricket directly on their lock screens and catch ball-by-ball action on the JioCinema app, making it easy for them to stay connected with the game, no matter where they are.”

Glance has revolutionised the way content is experienced right on the lock screens of Android smartphones. Glance’s pioneering ‘smart lock screen’ platform, powered by artificial intelligence, makes it frictionless for users to discover their preferred content across various genres, such as music, entertainment, sports, gaming, trends, and more.

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Somany Ceramics becomes Official Partner of Lucknow Super Giants

Lucknow Super Giants will flaunt Somany’s logo on the helmet and caps

By exchange4media Staff | Mar 31, 2023 4:17 PM   |   2 min read


Somany, a ceramic tile company, has announced its association with Lucknow Super Giants - the Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise team owned by the RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group, as their official partner. With this partnership, Lucknow Super Giants, popularly known as LSG will flaunt SOMANY's logo on the helmet and cap's.

Abhishek Somany, Managing Director of Somany Ceramics said, “We are excited to partner with Lucknow Super Giants for the 16th edition of Indian Premier League. Our slogan for the partnership is ‘Har andaaz mein zameen se jude’ which is a fusion of SOMANY's rooted values of “Zameen se Jude” and LSG's “Gazab Andaaz” slogan”. We are excited about the vision that the LSG franchise possesses alongside the leadership they're backed by”.

Colonel Vinod Bisht, CEO, RPSG Sports said, "We are delighted to have Somany Ceramics as our official partner for the 2023 edition of the Indian Premier League. The brand's commitment to quality and innovation resonates with our team's values, our style of sport and play — plus the millions of fans who look up to us for inspiration. We look forward to working together with SOMANY to create engaging experiences for our fans through personalized campaigns.”

“This is a key milestone for us as at Creatigies as we stitch and manage this exciting partnership between Lucknow Super Giants and SOMANY Ceramics, added Mr. Navroze D Dhondy, Managing Director, Creatigies Communications — the agency that is managing the partnership on behalf of SOMANY.

The 16th edition of Indian Premier League will feature ten teams, where each team will play 14 matches. Lucknow Super Giants were the latest entrants in the league who made their debut last year. The team fared well and concluded the season as one of the semifinalists.

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‘200+M viewers watch Star Sports’ build-up coverage of Tata IPL 2023’

The total number of minutes watched have increased by a whopping 142% compared to last year, touching 21.5 billion minutes, said Star Sports in a release

By exchange4media Staff | Mar 31, 2023 3:46 PM   |   2 min read

star sports

Star Sports’ build-up programming to Tata IPL 2023 has seen a sharp 62% increase over the previous year, reaching a staggering 205.6 million viewers, the channel has shared.

The total number of minutes watched have increased by a whopping 142% compared to last year, touching 21.5 billion minutes. In fact, the viewership (in million) and consumption (in billion minutes) of IPL Build-up programming is highest in the last three years, said Star Sports in a release.

“This landmark achievement, even before a ball is bowled in the tournament, is testament to Star Sports’ commitment to enhanced storytelling in multiple languages and fans’ love for the network. This data is also a strong indicator of the scale and reach that the Star Sports Network is expected to deliver for its broadcast of Tata IPL 2023,” wrote Star in the release.

The Star Sports Network celebrated 15 years of the IPL with various programming initiatives which served fans exclusive content about their favourite teams and players (past and present). With shows like Incredible Star Cast, Stars on Star, Incredible Awards: 15 Years of IPL, Game Plan, Cricket Countdown and IPL Heroes, fans have had a diverse offering of shows available on the ‘home of Cricket’ – Star Sports. The focus on fans and customised offering of content continues into the tournament with the most watched Cricket show in India – Cricket Live – returning for Tata IPL 2023 along with other fan-favourites such as Match Point, Game Plan, Cricket Countdown continuing through the course of the tournament. Star Sports has also partnered with Rajasthan Royals, Punjab Kings, Kolkata Knight Riders and Lucknow Super Giants to produce franchise-based shows which seek to drive fandom for the team and increase their affinity.

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Star Sports announces slew of interactive features to enhance IPL viewing

The network has tied up Dolby, Airtel Digital TV and Tata Play

By exchange4media Staff | Mar 31, 2023 12:59 PM   |   3 min read

star sports

Star Sports Network, the official broadcaster of TATA IPL 2023 has announced a range of product features for the upcoming season in its continuing endeavour to enhance the viewing experience for fans. The broadcaster continues its association with Dolby to broadcast the tournament with Dolby ATMOS (5.1.4) audio, providing an immersive audio experience on its HD feeds. The broadcaster has worked with Dolby to enhance the configuration of 40+ microphones in the stadium to capture cinematic and sound.

Star Sports is also launching a range of interactive features with Airtel Digital TV (“Star Sports Pro” available on ‘red button’ on the remote) and with Tata Play (“Star Sports VIP” available on the ‘Side button’ on the remote). Features available on the service include ‘Real-time Highlights’, ‘Key Moments’, and ‘Comprehensive Statistics’. The on-demand statistics available to viewers on the touch of a button are powered by ESPN Cricinfo’s revered statistical database.  Other features include an ‘Ambience feed’, which provides viewers the option of turning off commentary while experiencing unhindered in-stadia sound and a first-of-its-kind ‘Subtitled Feed’ which will provide subtitles for commentary during the live match. The live subtitling is powered by a combination of an innovative workflow and AI. 

Other than powering features being offered to consumers, technology is playing a key role in driving enhanced coverage of Tata IPL 2023. ‘Holobox’ at the Studio will provide an interactive experience that allows fans to teleport and interact with the commentators while ‘Traxis’ enhances graphics in 3D to augment the viewing experience. Additionally, the ‘social listening tool’ will allow real-time fan polling through any social platform on a real-time basis to promote fan engagement. The introduction of Hawkeye 4K Cam, Xeebra Quad Replay, and the VR Immersive Cricket Game aim to elevate the standard of programming and live match coverage. 

A Star Sports Spokesperson said, "We have always believed that Tata IPL 2023 should be a hotbed for innovation in the world of live sports broadcast. Our coverage, in association with BCCI, should aim to set global standards. As viewing experiences enter a new era, we want to make sure that we are always pushing boundaries, to serve fans. Our continuous focus on fan behaviour has led us to develop features which complement the viewing spectacle of IPL and still offer the comfort of the lean-back TV experience, which fans love." 

Disney Star, over the last two weeks, has unveiled coverage plans for Tata IPL 2023 which seek to drive community viewing, add layers of interactivity, and enhance customisation on Television. Star Sports’ brand of storytelling and association with superstars of the game including Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Hardik Pandya, KL Rahul, Ravindra Jadeja and Shreyas Iyer promises to take the fan deeper into the game and closer to their heroes than ever before. A panel of experts comprising World Champions, IPL title winners, marquee coaches and seasoned broadcasters from across the world will present the tournament. Bollywood star Ranveer Singh and Telugu acting legend Nandamuri Balakrishnan are also associated with Star Sports’ broadcast of Tata IPL 2023 to bring alive a never-seen-before spectacle which seeks to engage 500+ million viewers on TV.

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Sachin Tendulkar's clarion call to IPL fans: 'Let's break viewership record on JioCinema'

Tendulkar has reached out to cricket fans and urged them to watch IPL on Viacom18's OTT app

By exchange4media Staff | Mar 31, 2023 12:31 PM   |   1 min read

Sachin Tendulkar on JioCinema

Cricket’s G.O.A.T. Sachin Tendulkar is no stranger to smashing records. Over 34,000 international runs and 100 tons later, he is back at it, this time with his sights set on an off field record for JioCinema.

In a video released by the brand and the Master Blaster himself, Sachin has called on cricket fans in a new ‘digital India’ to join him in setting a new record for most fans watching the TATA IPL on JioCinema. Whether digital India smashes this record or not only time will tell, but all eyes will be on their phone, tablet, and connected TV screens when JioCinema’s coverage of Chennai Super Kings vs Gujarat Titans kicks off today at 5 PM.

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Mumbai Indians partners with 25 brands this IPL season

The team has onboarded 11 new partners this year

By exchange4media Staff | Mar 31, 2023 12:08 PM   |   3 min read

Mumbai Indians

Mumbai Indians has retained, extended and signed a diverse range of brand partnerships ahead of IPL 2023. The #OneFamily has been joined by eleven new sponsors, taking the tally up to 25 for the season and with prevalent market dynamics, Mumbai Indians has become an effective and preferred platform for brands to add to their marketing mix that includes, TV, Digital, amongst others. 
With traditional as well as new age brands, who are in different business growth cycles expanding the MI portfolio, the mix continues to be dynamic, bringing on-board several previously untapped partner categories who can connect with fans across all demographics. With this season of IPL moving to a home and away format, partner brands will create bespoke engagement models, leveraging MI players at meet and greets with fans, store visits, live content engagement, product seeding and distribution, and creative shoots beyond advertisements.

Speaking about the partnerships, Mumbai Indians Spokesperson said, “The market continues to evolve and partners prefer Mumbai Indians as a platform that allows them to build a narrative through the year. The focus for us is to win share of hearts, because that’s where fan loyalty comes in, which our partners can then be able to leverage and build on. We have been able to strategically and creatively curate experiences for our partners that allow them to engage with our 50 million fans digitally, spread across the world and this season with fans back in full strength at Wankhede, engaging with cricket lovers on and off the field.” 

Season 2023 Debuts: 

-          Among MI’s new partners on board are IDFC First Bank (Right Chest), the prestigious Mahindra for the first time as an official partner, MI’s first four-wheeler automobile sponsor.

-          Reliance Digital (Lead Trouser), Garnier Men (Back of helmet/cap), Bisleri (Official Partner), Viacom18 (Official Partner), Max Life Insurance (Official Partner), Bella Vita (Official Partner), Bira91 (Official Partner) and Ultratech (Digital Partner), make up for the other new partners in the Mumbai Indians family.

Continue with the MI Family:

-          Mumbai Indians continues to be at the forefront of brand partner trust having continued and renewed multiple deals with partners including slice (Front of Jersey), DHL (Back of Jersey), Astral Pipes (Upper Non Lead Arm), Acko (Non Lead Trouser), Dream11 (Official Partner), BKT (Official Partner), Royal Challenge (Official Partner), Jio Cinema (Official Partner) and Performax (Official Partner).

-          Furthermore, Mumbai Indians continues to be associated with Usha International for the 10th year in a row. The decade-long partnership is testament to the mutual value created by both parties and the similar brand ideology shared by MI and Usha for their valued audience.
Mumbai Indians starts its 2023 IPL season campaign on April 02, as it takes on Royal Challengers Bangalore at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore.

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