IPL news April 3, 2013

IPL's new partner raises the pitch


Last week the BCCI and Star India, a Murdoch-owned, TV-centric media conglomerate, announced the latter's association with IPL as an "official partner". The announcement indicated that Star India was just another sponsor of the tournament but didn't mention the significance - it had effectively entered the territory of one of their key competitors using the same platform and possibly changed the rules of the high-stakes advertising game.

Multi Screen Media are the IPL's official broadcasters through Max, their Hindi film channel, and their recently launched 24-hour sports channel. The broadcast rights deal, revised ahead of the 2009 IPL, is worth around Rs 900 crore ($165 milion) per year till 2017.

Star India, on the other hand, have tied up with IPL to primarily promote their flagship channel, Star Plus. "We saw a great opportunity to use this platform to communicate our brand promise of Rishta Wahi, Soch Nayi [same relationship, new idea]," Uday Shankar, CEO of Star India, said in a statement following the deal.

The significance of Star's entry into a property owned by one of its competitors goes beyond the boundary signage that was shown frequently and prominently on the screen during Wednesday's opening game. While not being seen as ambush marketing, it has created ripples in the media and entertainment industry. "We view it as an act of desperation by Star to be part of the biggest sporting entertainment event," Manjit Singh, CEO of MSM, told Mint, a business daily. "Star's decision to be part of IPL simply validates our strategy of having bagged the telecast rights".

Some industry experts are looking at the deal as an innovative method of branding. "It could be a trend-setting deal in Indian advertising, where a company enters into a property owned by one of its competitors," says Kiran Khalap, a brand consultant. "It is kind of a steal for Star to use a platform as big as IPL in such a manner."

The Star India deal is believed to be worth at least Rs 50 crore (approximately $10 million) per year. Even though both Star India and IPL have kept the form of the association under wraps, it is understood that the former plan to have characters from their 33-odd daily soaps attending most of the matches. After the first match against Kolkata Knight Riders and Delhi Daredevils on Wednesday night, one of the female actors from Star's soaps handed out a Star Plus Nayi Soch Award at Eden Gardens. In fact, the unique partnership has also left franchises wondering "whether the players will be asked to make a guest appearance in Star's reality shows, just like film stars".

MSM's tetchiness - as revealed by Singh's unusually aggressive statement - is understandable, say industry experts. "It may turn out to be a profitable move, but Star India's partnership with IPL is certainly not in a good taste," a media buyer said on condition of anonymity. "It may start a vicious war between television media majors, similar to the ambush marketing campaigns run by the cola giants over sponsorship of cricket events in the late 90s and early 2000s."

Khalap, however, says this isn't ambush marketing. "I can't call it an ambush. It's effective deployment of resources by a media conglomerate to use a property that's as big and reach out to the target audience in one more way."

Ad filmmaker Prahlad Kakkar speaks from a financial perspective. "Cricket is the biggest money-spinning factor in India. The IPL is the second-most followed cricket event after the World Cup," Kakkar says. "So it doesn't matter whether it's ambush or not. Any association with a property like IPL is going to surely help a brand in a much bigger way."

Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Suraj on April 5, 2013, 8:41 GMT

    @Kapil: You r right Kapil. MSM will be deeply thinking about this strategy by STAR and they too would wanna repeat the same when Champions League happens later this year. Champions League is with STAR and Sony advertising during that time would be like tit for tat. I m not saying it would happen but it could possibly happen...

  • Dummy4 on April 4, 2013, 13:57 GMT

    The coverage of Ind-Aus test series on Star Cricket was abysmal to say the least. After showing HIL highlights on so called cricket channel you never know they might start showing movies or daily soaps as well.

  • Senthil on April 4, 2013, 13:32 GMT

    @sillypoint6 - The broadcaster is not the program producer. The channel just carries the signal. The producer is responsible for the content. When DD was doing it, it was the producer and the broadcaster. They don't know the game at all. But now you see DD sometimes carries the signal for India games, just splitting the audio and the studio stuff for its commentators. You can tell the quality drop instantly.

  • PRANJAL on April 4, 2013, 10:43 GMT

    I think now onwards Star India should rename its channel Star cricket as Star Advertisement

  • Dummy4 on April 4, 2013, 10:23 GMT

    @sillypoint6 - tru - most indian broadcasters have not been up to the standards when it comes to using technology in the match - we depend on channel 9 and others to come up with the innovation - that said - its waaaaaaay better than neo before - which was like DD in the 90s in every quality aspect. also i guess the fact that india dont use DRS also means they wont spend too much money on certain technologies for india games.

  • Dummy4 on April 4, 2013, 10:18 GMT

    U r right sillypoint6 but one must keep in mind that Star group are only the broadcast feeders whereas BCCI are the original broadcasters who give feed to Star Cricket. So it is a bit unfair to blame Star cricket......

  • silky on April 4, 2013, 8:14 GMT

    star cricket is the worst channel for indian matches as it doesnt show ball tracking for lbw, hotsopt etc as it shows for england and australian matches.

  • Dummy4 on April 4, 2013, 8:06 GMT

    @Arvind Pai and @soumyas Yeah, it was really agonizing to wait for Ind vs. Aus highlights after returning from work. They used to show HIL highlights, and this was supposed to be a cricket channel. It was completely irrelevant to show hockey highlights at a time when the tournament was done and dusted long back. Even the cricket highlights that they showed lasted for 20 minutes only as 10 minutes were reserved for commercials. The highlights were below par the standards that they have set. There was no 'long format' highlights to be seen anywhere. And this when Indian is winning and everyone loves to relish and relive the moment. At some instance, they didn't even cover all the fall of wickets in the highlights section. Compared with this NEO is really good at showing highlights. As soon as the match is over they show an 1-hour highlights followed by ballebaaz and gendbaaz - covering the days top performer. Star Cricket really needs to take a cue from them.

  • Dummy4 on April 4, 2013, 7:46 GMT

    @soumyas Yeah, I remember when they started Star Cricket, it was promoted with the tagline, "For a nation that lives Cricket 24x7, a channel that shows cricket 24x7". It was ridiculous to show repeat telecasts of Hockey India League over and over again even months after it was over. They prioritised it even over highlights of the India-Australia Test series, which was ongoing at the time.

  • soumyas on April 4, 2013, 6:08 GMT

    anyway...Star cricket channel is completely messed up now a days after they started hockey, credibility of star cricket is lost as genuine cricket channel...now they are trying too hard to get viewers back by putting "sachin the great"..

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