Radio to bat big for IPL 2021?

Radio industry leaders discuss their IPL advertising plans, associations with teams, and the potency of media spends on the medium during the cricketing season

e4m by Noel Dsouza
Published: Apr 1, 2021 8:58 AM  | 5 min read
radio branding activities ipl 2021

The Indian Premier League is back with a bang this year. Last year saw IPL take place at a non-traditional time due to the pandemic. Luckily, the coinciding festive season did give it the fillip that it needed. With the 14th edition of VIVO IPL returning home to India this year, brands are enthusiastic about spending on the sporting event.

While spends on Digital and TV skyrocket during the IPL period, Radio also sees an uptick in branding action during the months. Be it programming, show segments or partnerships with teams, IPL figures prominently in the media spends of FM channels, say industry experts.

e4m spoke to the experts to understand their plans for IPL 2021 this year and the brand interest they entice during this season. 

Investing in radio during IPL

Sunil Kumaran, Country Head -Product, Marketing & THWINK BIG, BIG FM, stated, “In our country, cricket has gone beyond just being a game, it is a family entertainment event that unites people like no other sport. Given the immense popularity of IPL, we know how audiences and fans are avid followers of the sport and wish to be part of the entire experience. While TV and digital provide live updates, radio is going beyond creating an immersive experience for the entire family to enjoy the game together and be a part of the same in the medium's own unique style. Through innovative content and initiatives, radio is making sure that it engages every member of the family, who can enjoy the sport not just by watching the game but also participating in a fun manner, especially in these current times of social distancing.”

TV and digital provide hi-impact coverage and tend to garner most of the attention. However, Radio has some unique value additions to the sporting event.

B Surendar, COO and Director Red FM Network says, “Whether it is providing useful updates on the move without internet connectivity, creating a massive hype for the matches and the local franchisees, or interacting with the public at large through interesting contests, etc. Radio tends to play a critical role in the impact of which is often underestimated. But there is increasing recognition by advertisers particularly the regional ones on the utility of the medium and hence the brand count and ad spends on the medium keep increasing year on year. While in-stadia activations or giving away match tickets may not be possible this year due to COVID restrictions other interesting options like virtual meet and greet with players are still possible as we also try and leverage our growing strength on digital platforms.”

Radio’s game plan for IPL 2021

Nisha Narayanan, Director & COO, RED FM, and Magic FM remarked: "IPL is a catalyst in steering optimism across the country. We are gearing up to launch our new campaign as it is going to be a game-changer for us. It is mostly idea-based and innovation selling. The campaign will have a mix of radio plus digital offering.”

IPL season has always been one of the prime seasons for advertisers and thus, it's an important period for radio as well. According to Kumaran, radio being a mass medium, has been one of the strongest contributors in IPL fervour for its listeners.

Kumaran noted: “Knowing the frenzy that it ensues, at BIG FM, we have always curated engaging campaigns and partnerships around this time. Last year, we were the official radio partners for Rajasthan Royals, for which we had launched the campaign ‘Be Royal with the Royals’ creating multiple touchpoints across platforms including on-air, podcasts on audio streaming sites, digital and social media engagement ensuring an immersive experience for the fans. This year too, we are looking at similar partnerships that will drive high multi-platform engagement.”

Kumaran added: “Given the current situation, this year people may not be able to see the matches live on-ground, so it is important to make them feel a part of the entire experience. Hence, we are curating an interesting campaign ‘T20 Mahayodha’ where we are bringing the game closer to fans this year through a 12-week long sporting and trivia quiz-based extravaganza which will be played by teams in multiple rounds at the city and national level. The difference is that instead of playing with a bat and ball, BIG FM will make listeners play using their intelligence. The initiative will also include a smart assistant solution as anyone with a smart speaker or smartphone can participate in the fun from the comfort of their home or while on the go.”

With a large network of nearly 70 stations, the Red FM network is well-positioned to take IPL coverage to the nook and corner of the country, believes Surendar. 

“Other than providing routine inputs to listeners like match status, score updates, etc around match hours, we also give daily analysis, expert opinions, background/behind-the-scenes info in a most engaging and differentiated manner. As a part of the build-up to this mega tournament this year, we are organizing ‘Red Premier League’ – a corporate cricket tournament in some states and have got a good response for the same," he added.

Talking about partnerships with teams Surendar tells us that their strategic tie-up with teams like Sunrisers Hyderabad helps build the regional enthusiasm and fan base for the channel's partners encashing on their hyper-local reach.

Narayanan points out that IPL has always been a Super Bowl of India and brands cannot let go of this opportunity. She concludes: “Cricket forms a very integral part of our programming and digital. We will host a series of promotional activities for our listeners and will capture the mania, thrill, and excitement of the game.”

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