Star India, which owns the mobile and internet rights for the popular cricket club property Indian Premier League (IPL), says that it expects to generate nearly 500 million views, from 100 million fans, before the close of the tournament. This is a significant jump from 60 million views, from 28 million fans, in the previous year.
Star’s mobile application ‘Hotstar’ is driving the digital viewership and is streaming all the 60 games of the IPL live. “Hotstar is already off to a strong start in the 2015 IPL,” says Sanjay Gupta, chief operating officer at Star India. “The platform has recorded more than 40 million video views for the first 5 days of the tournament. This is six times the viewership on starsports.com last year. It is a dramatic and unprecedented shift.” Gupta says that Star India expects nearly 60 advertisers on Hotstar for the IPL— a little over double from the last season. “Almost all the categories had signed up last year as well.”
Television is seeing a period of transition and will soon shift to a new audience measurement system. A lot of media agencies and broadcasters have already unsubscribed from Tam Media Research’s ratings, as per the directive(s) of their respective apex bodies Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) and the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF). As per data sourced from those who still subscribe to the ratings, in the first week, IPL Season 8 has garnered a 4.4 average rating for the first five matches, in the cable & satellite homes, 4 plus target group. This is a 41% jump, over a 3.1 rating in the opening week in the last season. The opening match rated 5.4 , up from a 4.4 rating in the previous year —with the same audience parameters in mind. These are the average ratings for the Max, Six and AATH channels. Multi Screen Media (MSM) did not comment on the television ratings; the network has unsubscribed from Tam’s data.
Media buyers estimate that Star should be able to clock R70 crore upwards from the digital and mobile rights alone. Gupta says that they have nearly 15 million application downloads currently, and users on an average spend close to 24 minutes a day. “These numbers reflect a big, fundamental shift in digital consumption,” states Gupta. “The traction during the ICC World Cup 2015 was massive. With 87 million users over the tournament, and 340 million video views, we broke every global record for a sporting event on digital. In fact, on the day of the India vs Pakistan match, the traffic on hotstar surged to such an extent that it overwhelmed the entire internet infrastructure capacity for India. We had to work with our global partners to ensure that the infrastructure was augmented to meet the unprecedented demand for the rest of the tournament.”
Prasanth Mohanachandran, founder and CEO at digital firm Agencydigi, however, says he is still unsure about the advertiser response to Hotstar. “The IPL‘s title sponsor Pepsi is doing more on Youtube, than on Hotstar and one wonders why,” he remarks. Star’s eventual plan is to take Hotstar to the stature of a Youtube and could flag off content from independent producers, say broadcast executives.
Atul Hegde, CEO at digital firm Ignitee, said that Hotstar is off to a good start, “But Star will have to keep in mind, that the audience on mobile is very different from the audience on the broadcast channels. There has be a unique content strategy and content that is outside of the Star library.They will source content from independent producers. if they aren’t doing so already”.