The Indian Premier League (IPL) is one of the biggest sporting phenomena of our times, with teams, matches and revenue growing consistently since its inception in 2008. In its 16th edition, IPL broadcast rights have been split between terrestrial TV behemoth Disney Star and digital stalwart Viacom18, setting up a battle for viewership between traditional and emerging mediums.
Disney Star and Viacom18, who were chosen by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for a five-year period (2023-2027), will be vying for the attention of a vast number of viewers across the country. For Disney Star, that means appealing to its existing TV audience, while Viacom18 has the advantage of leveraging parent company Reliance Industries’ 434 million broadband subscribers.
Advertisers must be willing to pay an incredible amount for the IPL to remain profitable for the broadcasters. Disney Star is reportedly charging approximately Rs 17-18 lakh per 10 seconds of advertising, while Viacom18 are giving potential buyers a competitive rate of Rs 6.5 lakh per 10 second slot.
The BCCI’s approach to strengthening viewership of the IPL by opting to divide the broadcast rights between television and digital has set in motion an unprecedented battle between Disney Star, who have the TV rights, and Viacom18, who have the digital rights. Both conglomerations have been focussing heavily on offering innovative solutions to capture viewers’ attention, such as vernacular commentary in additional 9 and 12 languages respectively, to increase interactivity and reach.
It is clear that TV is still the most trusted medium for watching sports in India, with an average viewership of 722 million over the course of the first nine months of 2022. The IPL in particular enjoyed an unprecedented reach of 400 million, an impressive statistic that Disney Star has included in its marketing strategy.
However, the future of broadcasting sports lies in digital. Viacom18 are already capitalizing on the amazing depths of Jio’s e-commerce services with offers for free IPL streaming and data bundles. In addition, the online interface holds a major advantage over traditional broadcasting – the capability to offer innovative streaming experiences like multi-perspective simultaneous viewing.
The BCCI and STAR and Viacom18 have all invested heavily in the IPL. With their state-of-the-art production and broadcasting resources, they have been leading the way not only in terms of providing world-class cricket content to viewers, but also in terms of creating a positive impact on the economy of India as a whole.
In this time of digital transformation and media consumption, the Indian Premier League has become a symbol of progress and potential. Innovative approaches and thrilling viewing experiences, coupled with a cast of some of the world’s greatest cricketing stars, provides viewers with the greatest sporting league on the planet. The TV-versus-digital battle has only just begun, and the future of cricket broadcasting looks very exciting indeed.