Home / Industry / Media /  Star looks to score big in IPL 12 with regional pitch

NEW DELHI : Star India, the official broadcast partner of the Indian Premier League (IPL), is betting big on the booming regional cricket viewership as it plans to air IPL matches across dedicated regional sports channels.

The network is ready to launch Star Sports Bangla ahead of the T20 cricket tournament kicking off on 23 March. The matches will be telecast across Star Sports Tamil and the more recently launched Kannada and Telugu channels.

The total television viewership of IPL 11 held in 2018 stood at 1.4 billion impressions, up 15% from the tournament held in 2017. Impressions refer to the number of individuals (in thousands) of a target audience who viewed an event, averaged across minutes.

Star has also decided to run ‘kids and family’ special IPL programming on Sundays across its general entertainment and movie channels such as Star Gold and Star Jalsa, to involve more women and children in the league.

“There are two IPL games on Sundays along with an all-day programming. We are experimenting with this light-hearted feed, which will have movie integrations and also evaluating ideas such as bringing a child along with the commentator to engage with the young fans. We want to turn Sundays into a family IPL viewing day," said Gautam Thakar, chief executive, Star Sports.

Star plans to create a more engaged gaming experience similar to popular online game Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds (PubG), on its video streaming platform Hotstar. Thakar said it will allow users to talk either within a closed group (existing friends) or public (any user) while playing the ‘WatchN’Play’ IPL game on Hotstar that was launched last year.

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“We have realised that while digital is still an individual and rather lonely medium, cricket, as a game, is more of a community viewing experience. Therefore, we have decided to make IPL gaming more interactive this year, which will drive engagement further," Thakar said.

Star has also kick-started the IPL marketing campaign with a new tagline Game banayega name, which will highlight how sheer talent can take you anywhere.

The network, which earned close to 2,000 crore from IPL 11, was tight-lipped about its ad revenue targets. As of 25 February, Star signed Tata Harrier and Fashion Big Bazaar (FBB) as official partners , Paytm as the umpire partner and Ceat as the strategic timeout partner. It has 12 television sponsors and seven digital streaming sponsors, including brands such as Amazon Pay, Coca-Cola, Asian Paints, Maruti Suzuki, and MakeMyTrip.

“We are convinced that we will deliver the IPL which is bigger than ever. At this point, we are ahead of last year both in terms of number of sponsors, total revenue, and inventory utilization. We are selling Hotstar and TV together mostly with an option to buy an individual platform as per the requirement of an advertiser," Thakar said.

However, media executives feel that the general elections that are to be announced soon will have a bearing on this edition of IPL. According to industry estimates, Star is likely to touch 2, 500 crore ad revenue with Hotstar contributing around 400 crore.

“One big issue with IPL 12 will be the overhang of general elections. The tournament is starting in March when most companies exhaust their ad budgets as well and it is slightly early for summer advertising to kick in. However, Star will sell bundled long-term ad deals to brands which will continue advertising till the World Cup to spread out their visibility which will help the network achieve their ad sales targets," said Sandeep Goyal, chairman, Mogae Media, a Mumbai-based marketing and communication agency.

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