Disney Star targets record TV reach of over 500 mn from IPL

  • Plans major marketing and distribution push; to telecast across over 22 channels
  • The broadcaster is looking at reaching at least 70% of the sports audience, which is currently pegged at around 730 million

Gaurav Laghate
Updated10 Jan 2023
Disney Star was asking for  <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>14 lakh for a 10-second spot in IPL. (Hindustan Times)
Disney Star was asking for ₹14 lakh for a 10-second spot in IPL. (Hindustan Times)

Disney Star, which retained the television rights for the Indian Premier League for a whopping 23,575 crore for the next five years rights cycle, is now planning a big marketing and distribution push to ensure the “highest ever reach” for the league on the linear platform.

The company will live telecast IPL 2023 matches across over 22 channels in 10+ feeds. Put together, the network has a market share of over 30% of the linear telecast.

Sanjog Gupta, head,Sports at Disney Star told Mint that for Star Sports, this will be the year of resetting and repositioning IPL as the biggest property on TV. “We will make all the efforts to ensure that more people have access to Star Sports. We are launching two premium HD sports channels — in Tamil and Telugu — to service premium audiences, in addition to HD channels in English and Hindi. Last year, we managed to place our sports channels in the base packages of cable operators in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh/ Telangana markets, which has ensured higher reach. We will make IPL the biggest ever on TV,” he said.

While Gupta refused to share targets, the company has started making presentations to advertisers, and some of them on condition of anonymity told Mint that the broadcaster is looking at reaching at least 70% of the sports audience, which is currently pegged at around 730 million.

“They (Disney Star) are saying they will have a reach of over 400 million, but internally, they are aiming for over 500 million. The ad rates they are looking for are also 20% up from the last time,” said a top executive at a large media agency.

Last year, Disney Star was asking for 14 lakh for a 10-second spot. Gupta, while refusing to comment on the ad sales, said that the momentum is strong for the IPL this time.

Disney Star had combined rights — TV and Digital — for the league from 2018-2022, but it could not secure digital rights this time as rival Viacom18 outbid it with a winning bid of 23,757.5 crore for digital rights alone. However, the broadcaster is not perturbed. “This will actually create more buzz around the league as both the rights holders will invest in marketing and making it bigger,” said Gupta.

“The accretive power of the two networks will actually help in expanding the pie.”

The fact that IPL 2023 will happen after one full year, unlike the last three seasons, which were played in the gap of 18 months, has given breathing space to the rights holder.

The 2020 season of the league was pushed to the September-November period due to the pandemic. It was followed by the 2021 season, which started five months later in April but was suspended midway due to the second wave of covid. It resumed in October again and was quickly followed by the 2022 season, which was played from March to May.

“There was fatigue last time, but now IPL is returning after one full year. Secondly, the two new franchises — Gujarat Titans and Lucknow Super Giants — which were added last year, will start marketing in their regions, which will dial up viewership in those markets,” said Gupta.

He added that over the last few months, the broadcaster has been able to create strong momentum for cricket - Asia Cup viewership jumped 16% from the previous edition, T20 World Cup rated 25% higher, and both India versus Australia and India versus South Africa, rated 30-40% higher. “Even the IPL auction this year has rated 30% higher than the last year. So there is a renewed excitement for cricket and we plan to continue this momentum,” Gupta added.

Disney Star will launch its marketing campaign in mid-February, as it is looking at a 30-45 day lead-up to the tournament.

“We will have over 100 commentators and are looking at engaging with the viewers in a much bigger way. We are looking at building and engaging communities and creating content around IPL for different cohorts, from school kids and sports academies at one end to young mothers at the other. We know that viewers like to watch live sports on their TV sets while engaging with friends or family members on their devices. So IPL on Star Sports will give them the same opportunity, in their own language,” Gupta said.

Last year, with the addition of two new teams, the total number of matches had gone up from 60 to 74. And while both the new teams reached the playoffs, with Gujarat Titans lifting the cup, the poor performance of Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings pulled down the overall viewership of the league.

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