THIS World Cup is going to be a season of firsts and programming innovations, at least when it comes to broadcasting and viewership trends. Star India, the official broadcasting partner of the just-started cricketing extravaganza, is telecasting the tournament in six languages — Bengali, Tamil, Malayalam and Kannada, apart from English and Hindi — making it by far more inclusive than any other sporting tournament on TV so far.
Star India is broadcasting certain select matches, including India’s opening tie against arch-rivals Pakistan on Sunday, in 4K – the first-ever global broadcast of cricket in the ground-breaking ultra-HD format that offers more realistic colours and higher frame rates. Talking of the blockbuster India-Pakistan match, “over 70 brands, including some regional brands and first-time advertisers, have booked slots for the game, which is 50% more than the count for 2011 World Cup final,” says a Star Sports spokesperson. “This would make it the highest advertiser count in any single game in Indian sports,” the spokesperson adds.
As per some reports, the ad rates for the India-Pakistan clash have already clocked an all-time high, even though it is just a league match. At R25 lakh per 10 seconds, the figure is on a par with the World Cup 2011 final match between India and Sri Lanka. It is also about R5 lakh more than the tie between the traditional rivals during the semi-final round of the last World Cup.
Meanwhile, Star India is putting in place never-seen-before player analytics across 4,000 hours of match footage, besides ball-by-ball data from 600 matches (ODI data from 2010 till date) and analyses of 200 players and 14 venues, keeping the fans engaged 24×7 during the tournament. “For the first time, technologies mounted on sunglasses and wickets will be used during practice sessions to showcase what the players see while batting and bowling, bringing the viewers closer to the game. To give an aerial perspective of the majestic stadiums, drone cameras will be used for the first time,” the Star Sports spokesperson says.
Deepak Mittal, CEO of To the New Digital, a digital services and data analytics provider, explains:
With every match being covered by at least 29 cameras and the use of cutting-edge 4K technology, the 2015 World Cup is expected to be one of the most spectacular events in the history of cricket. With most official broadcasters providing the feature of live online and mobile streaming and users consuming more digital content, the World Cup will also be the most talked about event on digital platforms. Unlike TRPs, it is difficult to measure the digital viewership with a single metric. Some of the key data points to track would be the total number of views of World Cup videos on the official website or YouTube channel, total number of tweets, re-tweets and mentions.”
Star India is already seeing a lot of traction for its social media campaigns like #WontGiveItBack, #Ownthejersey (as per claims, it became the single biggest sports Twitter hashtag in India in a day, with 129,000 people using it on January 18) and #Ownthejersey. As per Star Sports, the #WontGiveItBack campaign on social media has resulted into 215,000 conversations, 120,000 unique authors, 1.2 billion potential impressions, 61% positive sentiment and 1.4 million video views so far.
As official radio partners, Big FM is also upping the ante on its World Cup initiatives this year through exclusive content throughout the season ranging from match updates, trivia, ‘behind the scene’ stories and game analyses to celebrity interactions. “We have launched a unique and interactive property christened ‘Cricket Ka BIG Headquarters’ with experts Virendra Sehwag and Harsha Bhogle. Elements began from February 8, led into the beginning of World Cup on February 14, and then until the end of the tournament,” offers Ashwin Padmanabhan, business head, 92.7 Big FM (part of Reliance Broadcast Network).
To ensure extensive marketing, Big FM has activated platforms across on-ground, digital and social media. “Big FM jocks will also visit residential welfare associations to engage with audiences to create excitement and awareness of the radio station’s property. We have also taken a leap in the digital space by partnering with PLUGGD Radio to launch a mobile app for our ‘Cricket Ka BIG Headquarters’ property,” Padmanabhan says.