IPL finals on Star Plus and Star Gold: Has Star hit a masterstroke?

The network has been quite tactical in using the winning combination of cricket and bollywood along with the widespread reach of Hindi GEC to garner maximum viewership for the finale

e4m by Sonam Saini and Madhuwanti Saha
Published: May 26, 2018 10:08 AM  | 4 min read

The decision of Star India to air the finale of IPL on its Hindi GEC Star Plus and Hindi movie channel Star Gold with a star-studded show preceding, it has undoubtedly raised the chances of the network hitting the jackpot.

Upping the glamour quotient, Star has roped in actor Ranbir Kapoor to host the show, which will also see other big stars such as Salman Khan, Jacqueline Fernandes, Kareena Kapoor Khan and Sonam Kapoor Ahuja taking to the stage.

The move clearly shows that the network has been quite tactical in using the winning combination of cricket and Bollywood along with the widespread reach of Hindi GEC to garner maximum viewership for the finale. Airing the grand finale on a Hindi GEC would definitely bring in a lot of default audience, which will be a win-win situation for both Star India, as well as the advertisers.

Industry experts too feel that move  would work out well for Star.

Sandeep Goyal, owner of Mogae Media, said, “Attracting viewers on a Sunday evening is always a challenge for GECs. That is why you don't see a regular serial or great programming on a Sunday evening. Channels generally put up a movie or an award function to boost the ratings. Star India is using the same strategy by putting up IPL along with a lot of bollywood content around it. Airing the final on a GEC will enlarge the audience many folds.”

Also, now, one cannot help but wonder if the combined might of a Hindi GEC and a movie channel will bring in more viewers for Star than Sony MAX, which has contributed to IPL’s success in the past?  Last year, 69 per cent of the IPL viewership came from MAX.

Mayank Shah, ‎Category Head - ‎Parle Products, feels that Star’s decision to air the final on Star Plus and Star Gold will definitely garner higher viewership this season compared to the earlier edition of IPL when the matches were shown only on a movie channel.

“Apart from Star Gold and Star Plus, they will also air it on AsiaNet and Star Pravah. So all put together, it will give a higher reach,” said Shah.

Besides attracting more eyeballs, the viewership of the finale will also be undoubtedly skewed towards women. This is because GECs predominantly have female viewership.

Shah observed, “If you look at the hike in viewership this IPL down south, I think, the good numbers are coming from women viewers because we are talking about non-sporting channels as well. They are getting reasonably higher female viewership. With Star Plus and Star Gold also coming in, women viewership will definitely increase. The combined might of a GEC and a movie channel will surely ensure a higher reach, unlike last year when it was shown on a movie channel MAX.”

Goyal also pointed out that the spot rates for the finale match could be higher. “For the advertisers, this extended reach is a bonus. The reach of Star Plus is higher than that of Gold. But together the two will make sure that they get a different set of audience. It’s a good strategy,” he said.

Vynsley Fernandes, Director, ‎Castle Media, said, “The advertisers must have been taken into confidence for the Sunday feed. It's a sweet deal for them. The kind of ratings that the event is expected to get, I am sure any advertiser would be happy to consider a premium.”

Fernandes, however, feels that it is Sony that has lifted the game. “They made IPL a universal sport and Star India is just taking it one step further.”

He continued, “When Sony purchased IPL, they brought it as an entertainment property on MAX and not as a sports property. It was not shown on the sports channels initially. It was aired on Max, which was a movie channel.”

“Star India, meanwhile, has leveraged its huge network and took the game one step further. It has completely disrupted and brought IPL across eight languages and 17 channels. It's a fantastic move. But they could do it because they have the leverage. They didn't want to push off in terms of putting playoffs and semi-finals on multiple channels therefore lose advertising revenue,” he added.

“It' still in the experimental stage and they are leveraging their network. They are obviously going a bit slow because the last thing you want is to cannibalize your own product in terms of advertising revenue on the other channel because at the end of day it's all advertisement-driven not necessarily subscription.”

So, without doubt, the combined strength of Star Plus and Star Gold peppered with Bollywood glamour has all chances of hitting off well with both advertisers and viewers.

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