“Content in the context of cricket, delivers high recall in terms of measurement”: Kingshuk Mitra

“Content in the context of cricket, delivers high recall in terms of measurement”: Kingshuk Mitra

Mitra unveiled advertising innovations and lot more insights for this year’s T20 World Cup.

Kingshuk Mitra

Mumbai: Cricket, often hailed as a religion in India, commands widespread excitement for a variety of reasons. Against the backdrop of this fervor, Star Sports eagerly anticipates broadcasting the highly anticipated ICC T20 World Cup 2024, slated to take place in the USA and West Indies.

Additionally, the previous World Cup (2023) emerged as a blockbuster cricket event on television, setting new benchmarks:

1.  Reach: The Men’s ICC event, Cricket World Cup 2023, shattered all past viewership records, reaching nearly 520 million viewers.
2.  Watch-Time: The 2023 World Cup also recorded an unprecedented watch-time of 428 billion minutes, the highest ever across all past World Cups on TV.
3.  High Viewership Across Segments: The World Cup attracted substantial viewership across various segments, with Youth reach at 254 million, Male reach at 276 million, Female reach at 243 million, and Rural reach at 245 million.

Moreover, the world cup on TV saw significant female engagement, with females contributing to 47 per cent of the viewership in CWC 2023, highlighting the broad appeal of cricket among diverse audiences.

As anticipation mounts for the upcoming ICC T20 World Cup, the landscape beckons with key inquiries surrounding investment strategies, viewership trends, and the perpetual debate between traditional television and digital platforms

Indiantelevision.com caught up in a virtual conversation with Disney Star head - Ad Sales, Sports Kingshuk Mitra. This interview delved into the nuances of linear TV, the significant surge of Connected TV and various other factors influencing the current views and trends of sports broadcasting and advertising.

Edited excerpts

On ICC’s decision to host the tournament at USA

From a broadcaster's perspective, I'd like to highlight a couple of key points. Firstly, in comparison to previous T20 World Cup editions like those in 2021 and 2022, where we typically had around 33 matches, this year's tournament boasts a remarkable 55 matches. This expanded schedule presents an excellent opportunity for brands to capitalize on heightened reach compared to past editions.

Secondly, if we examine the previous T20 World Cups, we notice a significant increase in prime-time matches, nearly doubling in number. Additionally, all India matches are strategically scheduled at the coveted 8 pm India time slot. This stands in stark contrast to the last T20 World Cup held in Australia, where some of India's most anticipated matches aired during less favorable time slots, such as 12 or 1 pm. From a broadcaster's standpoint, this shift to prime-time matches is a source of great excitement and anticipation, as it promises to drive substantial viewership.

In essence, these factors align favorably for broadcasters, paving the way for increased engagement and viewership throughout the tournament.

On linear TV being more widely consumed than mobile phones during sporting events

I'd like to highlight a couple of key points. Firstly, from a live sports perspective, the allure of the big screen offers a unique and immersive experience. Historical data consistently showcase the vital role played by television and large screens in enhancing the viewing experience of live sporting events.

Secondly, I refrain from framing the comparison as TV versus digital, as each platform serves its distinct purpose. As a consumer myself, I acknowledge the convenience of mobile viewing while on the go. However, for events as monumental as cricket, the preference shifts towards enjoying it in the company of family and friends, on the expansive canvas of a big screen.

On your plans to leverage the ICC T20 World Cup for advertising sales and unique media opportunities you offer

There's a lot of points to cover here. Advertisers are buzzing with excitement for the upcoming World Cup. No surprise there. There's been an increase in cricket-centric storytelling within marketing strategies across various clients. Incorporating cricket narratives has proven to yield high recall rates, as evidenced by the remarkable surge in female viewership during past World Cups and IPL seasons. This surge has particularly piqued the interest of Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) clients, many of whom were traditionally less cricket-savvy but are now actively investing heavily here. Moreover, there's been significant growth in the affluent class, with a substantial portion hailing from banking, finance, and international business sectors. Additionally, lower-tier markets, primarily TV-centric, are attracting attention from advertisers aiming to target these audiences.

Another consistent trend is the focus of startups on brand building and trust creation, with cricket serving as an ideal platform for these objectives. Many of these companies heavily invest in cricket to bolster their brand stature and foster consumer trust.

On the product front, we have launched product launches that serve as market differentiators. Firstly, our partnership with Tata Play offers a unique opportunity to target high-income users, providing targeted viewing opportunities that traditional television lacks. Secondly, our Star Deals initiative has changed the way people engage with ads, making television commercials more interactive. This technology allows viewers to transition from watching an ad to redeeming discounts or promotions. Additionally, the synchronization between TV ads and second-screen prompts aids advertisers in closing the loop on viewer engagement, providing valuable insights into the efficacy of TV campaigns.

Another innovative offering involves leveraging the expertise of Star Sports anchors to create custom content and influencer marketing pieces for advertisers. This strategy capitalises on the high recall and brand association that cricket-centric content offers. Lastly, our studio show "Cricket Live" boasts incredible reach. Through strategic product placements within the studio environment, we enhance brand visibility and drive substantial returns on investment for our clients.

While we continue to iterate and learn with new clients, I am very confident that these will be our mainstream products moving forward.

On the rise of Connected TV ecosystem and consumers shifting from linear TV to CTVs due to premiumization as recalled by experts

In addressing the question, I find it challenging to predict the landscape of this ecosystem in the coming years, whether it be four, five, or even ten years down the line. Presently, I don't observe any significant impact because, when analysing historical data, television viewership has consistently grown. Comparing the data from previous World Cups or IPL seasons that we've published, both ratings and reach have demonstrated steady increases. Thus, it doesn't align with the narrative of a shifting audience; in fact, the data suggests quite the opposite.

On measures you have taken to ensure advertisers receive optimal ROI during the World Cup

I'm pleased to note that many clients are recognizing cricket's ability to deliver extensive scale and reach. Nowadays, there's a growing emphasis on understanding the business outcomes resulting from every dollar invested in cricket. We've made substantial investments ourselves in comprehending these dynamics. For clients who engage in cricket advertising, we've observed a surge in their brand visibility and e-commerce sales. This allows us to attribute specific business outcomes directly to their investments. Consequently, our discussions are evolving towards more refined conversations centered on business outcomes, rather than just pricing or reach metrics. It's nice to see the gradual shift towards recognising cricket's true value proposition, as it consistently delivers impressive results in terms of business outcomes and that's essentially where most of our conversations are leading to.

On sharing any insights into the viewership trends and advertising opportunities that you anticipate during the World Cup

Building upon my previous point, it's evident that we're witnessing a notable increase in female viewership ratings, particularly within the Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) category. This surge is underpinned by a consistent trend of FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) companies investing in major sporting events like the World Cup and IPL. Moreover, we've successfully onboarded several new clients who are venturing into cricket-related investments for the first time.

Also, the fintech sector emerges as a significant player in this arena, and this trend will be continued in future. Their alignment with cricket investments has proven advantageous, consistently translating into tangible outcomes such as increased app downloads and heightened search visibility.

As we transition into the summer season, we anticipate active participation from seasonal categories such as soft drinks, air conditioners etc. Concurrently, numerous product launches are on the horizon, with many coinciding with cricket events. This alignment has historically amplified campaign impact, a fact well-recognised by our clients who eagerly embrace this synergy.

So these early trends indicate promising opportunities, and we're optimistic about channeling our business efforts in this direction.