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Disney+ Hotstar strengthens its content offering to attract new users as cricket lovers get ready for Vivo IPL 2021

Apr 9, 2021, 17:32 IST
Star acquired television and digital rights for Indian Premier League in 2017 for a 5 year period from 2018.Disney+ Hotstar
  • To get cricket fans to spend more time on their platform this season, Disney+ Hostar has lined up new movies, series and original content and has rolled out a 360-degree campaign.
  • As the tournament begins today, we speak to Sidharth Shakdher, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Disney+ Hotstar about the platform's marketing strategy, how IPL has helped Disney+ Hotstar grow over the years, expanding reach and much more.
The much-awaited advertising carnival of the year, Indian Premier League (IPL) starts today and OTT platform Disney+ Hotstar has its biggest-ever marketing and content plan lined up for this year.

Disney+ Hotstar is trying to position itself as a platform that offers all things entertainment (entertainment ka all rounder), including cricket. It is trying to remind the audience that it has Vivo IPL 2021 and Live sports, along with movies and original shows. So to get its users to stick around for a longer time, it has planned two new movies releases and two original series simultaneously with IPL.

Sharing the platform’s marketing strategy for this season, Sidharth Shakdher, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Disney+ Hotstar said, “Movies and series entertain you and so does cricket but you haven't ever had them at one place? Yes, you've had that in Disney+ Hotstar but now it is bigger than ever before -- we've got for you the best pure entertainment and also the best of cricket. So we brought together the best of both worlds and that was our idea of cricket-tainment this year. And out of cricket-tainment came this idea that we did with Ajay Devgn and Tamannaah Bhatia. Be it cricket or entertainment, we are so good at both of them that we are now an all-rounder. We have Bhuj, The Falcon and Winter Soldier, Loki, Arya 2, Out of love, Special Ops -- second season of all our big shows and OkComputer and November Story. So, it is gonna be a bigger roaster than ever before and this helps with both -- acquisition as well as retention.”

As a part of its huge media splash, the platform is following a 360-degree approach, with more focus on TV and digital.

Disney+ Hotstar also launched a digital campaign ‘India Ki Vibe Alag Hai.’ It captured inter-city rivalry and friendly banter to symbolise the many emotions of cricket fans - pride, heartbreak, happiness and celebration! It is developed by musicians Nucleya and sung by eight rappers - Dee MC, RAK, J19 Squad, Satyum, Vithika Sheru, Maharya, Gubbi, and Rawal, each representing their beloved city.

What IPL means to Disney+ Hotstar

IPL, Shakdher said, has helped the streaming platform build an emotional connect with its users.

“It's the biggest time of the year for us and it's been our biggest property. It has meant more than just cricket for us because it's allowed our consumers to establish a deeper, higher-order relationship with Hotstar,” said he.

When the platform acquired the media rights to air IPL, Disney+ Hotstar started focusing on its portability factor and today, it is trying to establish itself as an entertainment house.

Walking us through Hotstar’s marketing evolution for IPL, Shakdher shared, “When we first started, it was about telling people that they don't need to miss their cricket because it's with them wherever they go. From there, it moved to the ‘convenience’ aspect -- that you can connect with your friends, watch the matches at your own convenience or go back and forward, replay points. So we moved from there to the ‘experience aspect’, then we brought in the fact that along with IPL there's so much more to watch."

As far as its recent campaign goes, Shakdher said that they have seen a stupendous response from the audience and he is optimistic that the campaign will help Disney+ Hotstar stand out in the clutter. The campaign has been conceptualised by DDB Mudra Group.

Sharing the reason, he said, “I think people have really appreciated our ads. One of the things with celebrity ads is people force-fit them. And they use the ad for the celebrity. And so the celebrity often overshadows the brand. It is just an endorsement. Our ads are not celebrating endorsements, there's actually a reason for Ajay Devgn to be there. He is intrinsically a part of the storyline, because he's coming in disguise. And he's trying to push his own movie which is coming out on Disney+ Hotstar and similarly for Tamannaah. They're not plugging 'Disney+ Hotstar'. They're tapping into a consumer insight -- you love one thing and you get stuck to it, but also look at what else is there. So people have really appreciated the fact that these actors are underplaying themselves.”

Another part of the plan to attract more users onto the platform this year is regionalisation. IPL is available in 8 languages now and Marathi is exclusively available on Disney+ Hotstar. Adding more languages has helped the platform increase its engagement rate.

“Five years ago, more than 80-90% of the IPL consumption was in English and rest was Hindi. Today, consumption in Hindi is bigger than English. Hindi is now more than 50% and English is slightly smaller. So that's how much localization has meant, it coincided with the rise in viewership. We started with Tamil about three years ago with 1% and at a large scale, Tamil audience itself is probably not more than 15% of the audience. But today, we are already seeing a large part of that audience using Tamil. So there's definitely more delight, joy and more engagement, increased retention and frequency of coming back. This increase in engagement is because of many factors, not just commentary, but it's as effective,” said Shakdher.

Opportunity for advertisers on IPL this year

As per BARC and Nielsen’s 2020 report, IPL broke its viewership record in the opening week of season 13 itself.

This year, the streaming platform has already closed the deal with 15 sponsors including Dream11 and Upstox as the co-presenting sponsor, Vimal Elaichi and MX Takatak ‘co-powered by’ sponsors. Some of the other sponsors are PhonePe, Association of Mutual Funds in India (AMFI), Unacademy, Pharmeasy, Livspace, Swiggy, Parle Agro, Amazon Prime, Coinswitch, CRED and Xiaomi who have signed-on as associate sponsors.

In 2020, over 300 brands had associated with Disney+ Hotstar. To get more advertisers excited about IPL this year, Disney+ Hotstar has launched more interactive options. It has introduced a social feature called Watch Parties, which gives viewers the experience of a stadium in the safety of their homes. Video duets and Hotshots are another set of social features, enabling viewers to interact with brand videos and stickers.

“Traditionally, IPL is considered to be an expensive property with limited access to large advertisers. However, with Disney+ Hotstar’s innovative technology advancements and targeting options, advertisers across categories and sizes can leverage this property. They are now equipped to choose not only the audiences but also ad formats that suit their marketing objectives and budgets ensuring an impactful outreach strategy on the platform. Advertisers should aim at leveraging the strengths of the platform to generate two-way engagement on the platform helping both advertisers and viewers in their own ways,” said Disney+ Hostar spokesperson.

“With the immense digital growth in 2020, one can see great traction and response across categories of advertisers. Some of the key features on Disney+ Hotstar like Super 4s, Super 6s, Fall Of Wickets (FOW), Milestones, and Super Savers sold out sooner than anticipated. The platform has received significant interest from brands across various categories to leverage the scale reach and high visibility proposition that IPL offers,” added the spokesperson.

The platform is hopeful about crossing 300 advertisers this year.
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