Buoyed by record viewership in IPL, Disney Star eyes another leap

With Tata IPL 2023 exceeding expectations in terms of viewership and fan engagement, the Disney Star broadcaster is now gearing up for another leap into upcoming sporting events, including ICC tournaments and a pro-kabaddi league, said the company’s Head of Sports, Sanjog Gupta.

During the final season of the IPL which concluded last week, Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) data indicated that the play-offs delivered a rating 44 per cent higher than last year and surpassed the previous peak recorded during 2020.

The increase in viewership extended to the Hindi-language markets, where Disney Star grabbed the highest viewership ever with ₹32.9 crore.

“It exceeded our expectations,” Gupta told PTI, adding that “most records have been broken” this season in terms of viewership.

Now Disney Star will focus on the upcoming ICC events like Asia Cup and India’s tour to South Africa along with the Pro-Kabaddi League, in which they have invested heavily.

“We are currently very focused on the pro-kabaddi league… We have been able to build a foundation for the pro-kabaddi, from which it can jump. The second leap for the kabaddi is expected. It will be the tenth season. Of the kabaddi that is to come. It’s time to take the next leap in its journey.” “.

When asked about Disney Star’s expansion by adding new leagues/leagues other than cricket, Gupta said the group has always been interested in trying out other sports as well.

“We are always open to the idea of ​​trying a new sport and will continue to position ourselves and build a truly multisport portfolio out of a single sport portfolio,” said Gupta.

He added, “We have been partnering with the Ministry of Youth and Sports Affairs for the past five years on ‘Khelo India’ initiatives. The whole purpose of being involved in multi-sports like the ones we use is to be able to showcase all popular and highly-participated sports.” India on Star Sports and Disney Hotstar”.

Disney Star is now preparing for the final WTC (World Test Championship), which will be a big cricket event for the fans.

“Obviously, India hasn’t won an ICC event since 2013. So the stakes are high for this event to actually win an ICC event in 10 years. We’re obviously building this as the ultimate test for the Indian team,” he said, adding, “After That being said, we have the Asian Cup that will probably happen later this year and then the biggest one, the World Cup, which will come back to India after 12 years, in October, November.”

This will be followed by a tour of India in South Africa.

“In terms of what’s next, I think there’s a lot of stuff lined up on Star Sports over the next six months itself,” Gupta added.

Describing this overall IPL season as “brilliant”, Gupta said Disney Star said the viewing figures it showed had broken most of the previous records.

“We also saw 46 matches cross the peak concurrency of three crore viewers per match which was exceptional,” he said.

Total consumption in terms of minutes watched is also the second highest after Covid, showing the “intensity and frequency” of total engagement consumption.

“Across all metrics, it’s an unprecedented IPL in terms of the response we’ve had from fans, and the viewing figures on Disney Star suggest it’s clearly the biggest IPL ever,” he said.

This time the IPL delivered on multiple strategic priorities the organisation had. Compared to last season, there is growth in the premium demographic, which is the higher socioeconomic classes, and growth among the youngest demographic of viewers under the age of 14.

The 2023 season of IPL viewership has seen competition between television and digital. Disney Star had the TV broadcast rights, while Reliance-backed Viacom18 had digital rights that did live streaming through the OTT platform JioCinema.

JioCinema has also created many records in terms of 12 crore unique viewers and 3.2 crore peak concurrency in Tata IPL 2023.

Further, Gupta said, “We don’t see it as a competition. The two platforms are different. Our focus is on fan service. We believe we provide the perfect viewing experience for a fan who wants to watch IPL and have an experience that is synonymous with Star Sports and the big screen.”

The same fan may choose to follow the IPL on mobile devices when he cannot access the big screen or TV.

“It’s addictive. If it helps develop or increase fan engagement with the IPL and deepen the affinity with the IPL, it only adds to the overall price,” he said.

He added that Disney Star was “screen-neutral” as it was providing live coverage of IPL matches on TV and other related content available on its digital platforms.

Besides, Disney Star is also looking forward to adding more languages ​​for commentary on the upcoming season of IPL. The journey of cricket localization and region specific cricket started in 2012 in regional languages ​​like Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Marathi.

“We are constantly looking for new spaces or new areas that we have growth potential that we can go into by adding not only a language but also a local way of coverage or a local coverage of our cricket coverage,” Gupta said.

Disney Star will continue to experiment and look for new growth opportunities not only on the language vector, but also on other vectors such as programming and so on.

Besides, in this season of IPL, many new champions like Yashasvi Jaiswal, Rinku Singh and Ruturaj Gaikwad have emerged and are now household names.

Gupta added, “It’s a great sign that on one side new heroes are coming and becoming popular, and on the other side, viewers under the age of 14 are watching in greater numbers than ever before on TV.”

(Only the title and image for this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard team; the rest of the content is generated automatically from a shared feed.)