Digital to score big this World Cup 

Dream11, Byju’s,, and PhonePe are some of the new entrants to the advertisers’ list for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019

e4m by Tasmayee Laha Roy
Updated: May 30, 2019 8:38 AM
World Cup

This year has sure been a party for media companies as brands went all out to cash in on the recently concluded Indian Premier League and the Lok Sabha elections. But the part is not over yet. Marketers and brands are loosening purse strings again for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, thanks to its reach and popularity.

“Investments to the tune of Rs 1,200 crore will be made as advertisements across TV, digital, print and radio. While there are the traditional brands who have always been visible as aggressive advertisers in such global events, there are many new names too who have taken up partnerships to popularise their brands riding on the back of the biggest cricketing event of the world,” said Sudhir Kumar, Director, Offline Media at marketing agency DCMN India. 

According to Atul Jalan, Entrepreneur and Author of ‘Where Will Man Take Us?’, “There are two major changes happening in sports viewership: the growing participation of women and people consuming sports real time or at a time of their convenience on their mobile phones. The emergence of these two factors will change the traditional methods of advertising around popular sporting events.”

Kumar says close to 15 per cent of the spend has been focused on digital, and digital companies are also the major spend propellers this World Cup season. Some examples of this trend, Kumar says, are companies like Byju’s,, and PhonePe, who are also new entrants to the advertisers’ list for the World Cup. Most of these brands are also part of the 35 names that Star India, the media rights holder of ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, have got on board. Some other brands Star has signed on include Havells, MRF, Amazon, Royal Stag, Uber, Acko General Insurance and Ceat Tyres.

Star’s digital property Hotstar is also expecting a surge in advertising spends as the Cricket World Cup viewership in India has always been more than that of the IPL. This year, IPL 2019 witnessed a viewership of 267 million in the first 3 weeks. If trends are to be believed, this number would be much higher for the ICC World Cup 2019 and naturally this gives advertisers the opportunity to scale up their campaigns.

Hotstar is also rolling out new facilities for advertisers who start with a low barrier to make an entry. Cricket World Cup advertising has always been considered as a game meant for big-ticket advertisers but that has changed with the ICC World Cup 2019 as brands have been allowed to start advertising at a starting package of Rs 5 lakh. 

In the last World Cup the same ad was being served to all during live streaming of match, but this year the mid-roll ads (ads played during the live game) can be targeted using available filters. Advertising on Hotstar during ICC World Cup 2019 also gives an advertiser the opportunity to integrate their product page on the platform, making it possible for the audience to browse through the information without leaving the match.

In many ways, this is a landmark year for sports broadcasting in India. “With the ICC World Cup, match timings lend themselves to Out-Of-Home viewing, which is likely to top the 18-million subscriber base that saw the IPL finale on OTT. I am sure the ad rates on OTT corroborate this hypothesis. Brands too seem to be making the most of this shift, with interactive multi-platform campaigns that are driving preference through contests and engagement. In a country that unites over sports, the draw to witness it live, is still a compelling purchase influencer,” said Varun Goswami, Executive Creative Director, GREY Group.

Clearly, digital has an edge this season. Echoing similar thoughts about the medium, Santhosh Palavesh, Founder at digital transformation firm UMM said, “Total spending in digital space is expected to increase 37 per cent this year to reach a market size of Rs 25,000 crore. Although elections did contribute to the craze, it’s still less than 1 per cent of the total expected spending. We feel the majority of the spending is primarily coming from big corporations who are relocating more budget into digital spends than ever before. Most of them are expected to continue with this trend, with an increased spending of 10-15 per cent, with digital spending contribution coming to 20-25 per cent of the media mix."

While aggressively spending across mediums in advertisements around the World Cup, brands are counting on the visibility the global cricketing event is offering.

Dream11, which announced exclusive worldwide partnership with the International Council of Cricket as its ‘Official Fantasy Game Partner’ till 2023, aims to bring together cricket fans across the world to experience fantasy sports. “This partnership gives us both the perfect opportunity to revolutionise sports consumption and be the catalyst to increase fantasy cricket adoption from the current base of 4.5 to over 10 crores globally,” said Harsh Jain, CEO and Co-Founder, Dream11.

Similarly, Ishq FM is also counting on the World Cup. The radio brand that organizes a travel quiz and sends a couple from Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai to exotic locations around February has delayed their third season to position it around the World Cup. “We have sent our winners to Paris and Rome and this time we are sending them to the World Cup. We have a series of outdoor campaigns, mall activations, corporate park activations and digital amplifications planned around the event and are trying to make the most of the popularity the cricketing tournament has across the country,” said  Shivangini Jajoria, National Head Operations at Ishq FM. The radio station is spending upwards of Rs 4 crore to popularise this programme around the World Cup.

Talking of the possible downsides, Amita Wadhwa, President, Dentsu Impact said: “It’s cricket and it’s the ODI World Cup. It surely calls for a big draw from the entire nation. However, two things can act as a spoiler. One, it comes post IPL and a hugely engrossing election which certainly would have consumed some marketing budgets. Second, it depends on how well does India perform on the field. But overall the event should still see large spends across media.”

With inputs from Ruhail Amin

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