Star Sports, the official broadcaster, is pulling out all stops to ensure the tournament's popularity does not get dimmed despite the disruptions caused by the pandemic.
IPL 2020 is set to get underway this Saturday and despite the roadblocks thrown by the coronavirus pandemic, it will be staged, although outside India.
Star Sports, the official broadcaster, is pulling out all the stops to ensure the tournament's popularity does not get dimmed despite the disruptions caused by the pandemic.
In an interview with Moneycontrol, Gautam Thakar, CEO, Star Sports, speaks about how Star has managed to ride out the storm and ensure the tournament is not bereft of the glamour and excitement that it is synonymous with.
Q: With COVID-19 disrupting operations, how difficult has been the process of setting revised targets and deliverables? Are you happy with the revenue mop-up?
A: Dream11 IPL is the most-awaited sporting event for fans as well as advertisers. When the tournament was announced, we had about six weeks to actively start selling our inventory. The advertisers' response has been phenomenal and this is a clear sign of what Star can do to make this property big. We have already sold out 95 percent of our inventory and have 18 sponsors onboard so far, the highest number of sponsors we've ever had.
Q: As a marquee property, do you think the power of brand IPL makes it easier to justify the massive cost involved in acquiring it, especially in these trying times?
A: With a year-on-year increase in viewership, IPL has established itself as a tentpole property. Brands across categories see the strength it brings to the table and therefore are willing to invest. As a broadcaster, we will continue to focus on increasing the reach and impact of the property.
Q: Do you think IPL will be able to revive sentiment as companies look to recover from the COVID-19 setback?
A: IPL will be the biggest property available for marketers during this festive season, providing the much-needed avenue to bounce back to normalcy. In addition, the fact that the matches will be starting half-hour early, lesser doubleheaders and homebound audience, we are confident of setting a new viewership record, which will only supplement the impact it will create for the advertisers. There has been a lot more interest this year than in the past from the FMCG category -- P&G, Unilever, ITC, Mondelez and Nestle are some of the brands that have come on board. Even the online categories, including education, finance and e-commerce, are going strong.
Q: How are you planning to leverage your network strength in regional markets?
A: In 2018, we launched regional channels to give fans a sense of belonging and an option to watch IPL in their choice of language. We have made conscious efforts to give audiences a familiarity aspect by bringing in local commentators and experts who they connect with.
Q: What different content mix-up can the viewers expect from this year's broadcast?A: We have a very strong line-up of live and non-live content mix across languages – English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Bangla. Cricket aficionados can look forward to our premium property – Select dugout, a show with a panel of select experts who analyse every match to keep core cricket fans ahead of the game. BYJU's Cricket Live, Star Sports’ flagship pre and post-match shows, will be back with experts and presenters analyzing the matches to give viewers a fun cricket experience. Also, we will have franchise-based shows, which will run throughout the tournament.