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Business News/ Companies / Disney Star bats for a larger pool of advertisers as IPL approaches
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Disney Star bats for a larger pool of advertisers as IPL approaches

The economic stability and the surge in cricket viewership have positioned the IPL as an attractive platform for brands looking to build and strengthen their identities.

Disney Star is making concerted efforts to provide value to advertisers through initiatives like Brand Studio, influencer marketing, and a pricing mechanism based on feeds and customization. Premium
Disney Star is making concerted efforts to provide value to advertisers through initiatives like Brand Studio, influencer marketing, and a pricing mechanism based on feeds and customization.

As the excitement builds for the next season of the Indian Premier League (IPL), Disney Star, the TV rights holder for the league, is gearing up to sign what it calls the highest number of advertisers. With economic sentiments showing improvement over the last year and cricket viewership reaching unprecedented levels, the broadcaster is pinning hopes on a surge in advertising dollars.

Expressing optimism about the IPL's potential to draw in more advertisers this season, Ajit Varghese, head of network advertising sales at Disney Star, highlighted the positive shift in economic conditions. “The market is turning around. We had a few down cycles, businesses were cautious, there was funding winter, Russia started a war, and overall, business models were being relooked at."

Varghese acknowledged that certain categories like crypto, edtech, and a few startups might not return this season. However, he said there is the growing interest from categories such as auto, FMCG, fintech, and others that are keen to enhance their brand presence. "Today, there is more optimism and less caution and I can sense it from all the dialogues we are having with the advertisers. Clients are increasingly looking to manage their top-line growth sustainably. Yes, there are short-term pressures. But increasingly all the dialogues are about how can I grow sustainably over a longer period. And that's a positive sign."

While he refused to share the targets, Varghese added that he can see “at least a 50% increase in the number of conversations" versus last year.
Other categories, which are growing and can be tapped, include construction, industrial, consumer durable and beverages as well as BFSI, he said. “Aditya Birla Group bidding 500 crore every year on IPL, you wouldn't have ever expected an Indian company bidding that way and another Indian company (Tata) countering it. Earlier this was the Chinese or startup domain. Now it's the traditional Indian companies fighting over the title rights," Varghese said. “The common link I find is that the cost-cutting story is out. I think for clients, this year is about top-line growth and therefore, most categories will have to find reasons to get more consumers."

He said that the economic stability and the surge in cricket viewership have positioned the IPL as an attractive platform for brands looking to build and strengthen their identities. "I feel clients are pretty much aware of what's happening around them, and they know what medium to use when. And it's not an either/ or, but an and decision between TV and digital. The question is not what percentage jump we can get over last year, but how do we make sure that every brand can participate? If I were a marketeer, I would be more worried if I'm not part of the IPL or World Cup. Because this is a time when there is consumer euphoria, there is a stabilization of inflation, and unlike the volatility of 2023, most marketers know what is good or bad," he said.

Varghese said advertisers have a multitude of options to tailor their brand strategies. "Our go-to-market is that we're willing to talk IPL alone, IPL+World Cup, and Cricket+GEC. We are ensuring that whatever is the best route, which gives clients top-line growth is what we are trying to enable. We have assets across platforms — OTT, connected TV, linear TV and HD TV. We are in the best situation to provide both the width of platforms and the depth of content. And we are willing to do customization, offer flexibility and step into partnership deals which enable across-the-network access," he said.

In the previous season, IPL saw the highest-ever reach on television, with the highest time spent and total watch time. However, as the TV and digital rights were with two rival broadcasters, the campaigns run by the two made many advertisers shy away from advertising. This time, however, the two companies are not going to market with the messaging that one medium is better than the other.

Media agency experts are also saying that considering that optimism in the market and the fact that IPL performed so well last year, there is a possibility of double-digit growth in ad revenues and number of advertisers.
“I believe this year will be better than the last one, both for TV and digital. I think we can expect progress on both sides in double digits. The total number of brands will only increase. We had a good experience with a significant number of eyeballs last year, even though we faced challenges with strategies," said Prasanth Kumar, chief executive, GroupM South Asia. “I don't want to say whether TV is bigger or digital is bigger. Both will attract more brands and grow."

On its part, Disney Star is making concerted efforts to provide value to advertisers through initiatives like Brand Studio, influencer marketing, and a pricing mechanism based on feeds and customization. "We are trying to deliver better value for clients. For that, we are doing many things. First is building value for clients, second, we're introducing something called Brand Studio, which allows brands to customize content in a way that suits their brand philosophy or extends the brand's story in different ways."
Disney Star will allow brands with any budget to come and get their best value for money from IPL. “We are even creating something called a partner status, who are not sponsors but can associate with the league and reap benefits within a short window," Varghese added.

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Published: 14 Feb 2024, 06:26 PM IST
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