| Photo Credit: The Hindu

Disney Star said it is confident of driving scale for IPL on television with an aim to garner a higher viewership reach during the upcoming season. The broadcaster will leverage on its wide network to broadcast IPL matches across over 22 channels. It is also set to launch two new HD sports channels in Tamil and Telugu while focussing on offering a wide gamut of choices to brands with customised ad packages.

Ajit Varghese, Head of Network Advertising Sales at Disney Star, told businessline: “We understand the IPL ecosystem well. If one looks at the last few years, I feel IPL has always delivered immense value for our clients and consumers. IPL will be telecast across over 22 channels in over 10 feeds.. To tap into the fast-growing premium HD audience base, we will also launch two new HD sports channels in Tamil and Telugu,” he added.

Growing viewership

The broadcaster’s aggressive plans come at a time when Viacom18, the digital media rights holder, is set to stream IPL matches for free on JioCinema app.

“Television continues to be the mainstay for sports consumption especially because it is watched together as a family or a community. TV is all about the co-viewing expierence. It also attracts significantly higher female viewership compared to the digital platforms,“ said Varghese. He added that while connected TV segment is growing it still comprises of a smaller base.

The company is taking several initatives such as creating special content for weekends to appeal to families as well as innovations to garner higher fan engagement.

Sources said Disney Star aims to garner a reach of 500 million viewers for IPL 2023. According to industry estimates, sports viewership on TV grew by nearly 11 per cent in 2022.

“Over the years, IPL has emerged as the biggest reach aggregatore on linear TV. We aim to continue to grow the reach of IPL on the back of growing number of HD and Pay TV households,”he added. The company, however, did not comment on growth targets.

Ad sales

Responding to a query on ad sales strategy, Varghese said: “Higher number of games will enable us to offer customised ad packages across languages and feeds. A large expert panel will also help us create more branded content opportunities for advertisers. So, we expect to grow the number of advertisers by customising packages as per the brands’s needs,” he added. The broacaster is learnt to have approached 500-700 brands this time with various options to advertise on IPL.

“Free-of-cost access to live sports content is not a novel concept in India. The costs for high-speed broadband required to stream live matches remains a key barrier for conversion to viewership,” Varghese stated.