#SSIPLWatch: IPL 2020 – Brands pave the path to revival with shorter edits and strategic spends

IPL 2020 marketing

As advertisers gear up to make the most of IPL 2020, we gauge the viewer and marketer sentiments with the help of few experts.

“This event has the power to uplift the sentiments across the country and bring back the momentum of normalcy! While we are amidst a global crisis, we have started the unlock phase fully and we are in the festive quarter. IPL can be a catalyst in steering optimism across the country,” says Sujata Dwibedy, Group Trading Director, Amplifi, Dentsu Aegis Network India. A sentiment echoed across the industry. In terms of ad spends & spenders, both IPL 2020 marketing is bound to see some new trends.

IPL 13 kicked off on September 19. As per LetsOTT, as many as 8.4 million concurrent viewers logged on Disney + Hotstar to watch the first match. The IPL 2020 marketing sentiments are as pumped up as the viewership numbers. The path to revival – is what ‘IPL 13’ has been pegged as by marketers and broadcasters, amidst the global pandemic.

Star India has roped in more than 13 sponsors including Dream11 as the co-presenting sponsor. Associate sponsors including Acko, Maruti Suzuki, KhataBook, Flipkart, Swiggy, Ace23, HDFC Bank, Great Learning, MX Player, Kingfisher Calendar, and AMFI (Association of Mutual Funds in India).  Apart from this, individual teams have lured in almost 20 plus brand sponsorship consisting of JSW Group, Tata Motors, PhonePe, boat, Mastercard, Intel, Procter & Gamble, BKT Tires, and the list can go.


According to a Duff and Phelps’ report – the overall value of the IPL ecosystem increased by nearly 13.5% in INR terms last year.  IPL 2019 is believed to have fetched the official broadcaster Star India ad revenues of more than INR 2,000 crore, slightly more than Rs 1800-2,000 crore in 2018. Earlier this year, when the fate of IPL 13 was still under scanner due to the pandemic, experts estimated that Star Sports should generate approx Rs.3000 Cr through ad sales with digital garnering 30%-40% of the media spends.

Five months down the line, we get in touch with media experts and marketers to understand the shift in the viewer sentiments and what IPL 2020 has in store for brands.

Marketers & Viewer sentiments

Experts opine that this season of IPL comes close on the heels of festive fervor and is coupled with positive sentiments given the fact the entire IPL inventory is sold out both on Star and Disney+ Hotstar.


Also Read: IPL in the festive season is a celebration for fans and brands alike

“We have all decided to live with this global crisis. ‘The show must go on’ as they say. While we did see a few COVID cases, I am positive that the event will go on as per schedule. The bio-bubble that is being created/ implemented will ensure all adequate precautions are taken,” points out Mohit Joshi, MD – India, Havas Media Group.

Presenting a brand perspective, Trupthi Shetty, Lead- Growth and Engagement at CRED states that through some rewarding experiences and constructs, CRED aims to build excitement and awareness about their product. She adds, “We are also looking forward to leveraging the sporting event’s reach to educate people about the plethora of products, services, and experiences they can avail as rewards on CRED.”

As per BARC India viewership data shared by Star India last year, a whopping 462 million viewers watched the 12th edition of the league on Star network channels. A number of startups have joined the official brand sponsors roaster this year, hoping to reach audiences with a renewed vigor post a long hiatus.

According to Sudipto Chatterjee, General Manager, MediaCom, the viewers’ sentiment is expected to be euphoric. That’s primarily for two reasons – first people are still under lockdown and spending most of their time at home, and secondly, there is an absolute dearth of any Indian cricket.

Chatterjee is expecting a viewership growth in this year’s IPL owing to the overall time spent on TV and cricket coming into play after a 6 month break.

Ad spends, Big Spenders & Festive Fervor

In 2019, the reach of the tournament was up by 12% compared to the previous season. The total consumption increased from 300 billion minutes in 2018 to 338 billion minutes in 2019, making it the highest ever in IPL’s history.

“From the lens of global crisis it may appear little surprising, however, given the festive is round the corner it’s quite obvious that marketers would want to grab the IPL viewership. We are expecting a lot of new categories and players to use IPL for their festive launch campaign after the long hiatus. Even FMCGs are one of the key categories putting bets on IPL to maximize penetration,” notes Chatterjee.

Chatterjee tells Social Samosa that many brands are putting as much as 80% of the budget to IPL.

“Actually it’s not surprising and in fact, quite a wise decision given the brands are having limited budgets and driving ROI having supreme importance, brands are using IPL for the entire season to maximize reach and drive impact,” he explains.

IPL 13 is garnering maximum investment from all dotcom/ e-commerce players. Brands from mobile gaming/digital wallet/ online education/ marketplace are driving the lion’s share in AdSpends. EdTech companies like upGrad, UnAcademy, and Byju’s are also betting big.

Arjun Mohan, CEO – India, upGrad says, “Our association with Star India for IPL 2020 will enable us with the right platform to prepare ~550Mn viewers for a future-ready career. Moreover, this is our first major sports association and we will also be providing “Free Career Guidance” to help viewers overcome the COVID-19 impact.”

At the beginning of the year, upGrad announced a budget of INR 175 crore for marketing. However, keeping the current situation in mind, the idea is to look at mass media such as TV and accordingly shift spends towards the same, supplementing it with digital

The opportunity has been grabbed not only by old IPL loyal brands but also, newer categories & brands, those who are around during festive but are not necessarily there around summers.

Dwibedy adds here, “The pandemic might have pushed it to the end of the year but in terms of revenue, they have already locked in the target with  55-60 clients on regular inventory. The only impact is that the matches would happen in UAE and there would be no crowd present to cheer the people on the ground, but this would surely improve the viewership on TV, Disney+ Hotstar, and also Hotstar via Connected TV.”

TV v/s Digital – The preferred medium

In terms of the go-to medium to garner massive eyeballs, television has higher revenues but that has got to do with the pricing difference and the number of channels which would air it, including regional within the network.

Between TV and digital, the choice would depend on the efficiency and KPIs for the relevant audience cohorts, points out Dwibedy.

Digital was very big last year due to the Jio partnership. Also, this year Disney+ Hotstar VIP has added many new features to the interactive Watch ’N Play social feed. ‘Hotshots’ selfies or a new video feature ‘Duets’, and more.

If reports are to be believed, Star India is charging about INR 12-12.5 lakh per 10 seconds.

In terms of ad formats, Mediacom’s Chatterjee highlights that smaller duration creatives are being used by brands. 15 / 20-sec edits are common so brands can maintain threshold number of spots per match.

“This will help to maintain optimum visibility and saliency. Many brands have tied up with team franchises and they are preferring smaller edits to run in IPL while larger edits on digital platforms,” he adds.

Digital Penetration

Every crisis has an opportunity. As in-stadia engagement comes down, new opportunities are being created to engage the audiences digitally. Joshi is confident that both the viewers and the marketers will get their RoI (time and money).

PhonePe is working to grow it’s registered user base to 500 million from 230 million currently by 2022. The IPL sponsorship will help them to reach both urban and rural audiences alike. “The data for IPL 2019 suggests that the reach and viewership have increased significantly with each season. In addition to IPL, we have announced our digitization plans. This will collectively contribute to making PhonePe a household brand,” says the company spokesperson.

Digital will surely be getting some weightage to leverage all CTA driven campaigns. Chatterjee adds, “While advertisers are emphasizing on video neutral planning and thereby using IPL on both TV and digital platforms, they are also leveraging platforms like Cricbuzz / Cricinfo to further leverage the traffic surge during the IPL. These platforms would allow advertisers to drive consumer-driven campaigns and drive traffic to their own websites. Also, brands that have limited budgets that can utilize digital platforms very strategically and tactically by affinity-based audience targeting.”

CRED is working on creating digital constructs that employ gamification among other elements. Examples of these are experiences like CRED Power Play and CRED Payer of the Match- they do not take away from the game and are rewards that members can avail while they are watching the game from their homes. 


It should be noted that IPL always had restrictions on the in-brand integrations. Only sponsors could take certain segments, which is the case this year as well, so nothing much has changed.

Trends & Innovations

The work from home scenario and no live viewing in the stadium is bound to enable more interactivity and social conversations around IPL. Moreover, given the festive rush, other mediums and channels might also leverage the situation and build shows around the theme.


“It will be a great platform for newer categories, very high reach medium, great for launches, interactivity, and announcements around festive. Also, many fans are waiting to see the experience of viewing the event on screen v/s the live matches. Additionally, they are also awaiting to witness the technological experiments planned. So, what is the experience quotient that both TV and Disney+ Hotstar would bring for the audience is to watch out for!” quips Dwibedy.

In general when IPL starts viewership gets major polarization towards IPL. GECs and other impact show to receive the biggest impact. However, we should see an overall viewership growth compared to the last festive season due to the higher time spent on TV.

According to Chatterjee, another interesting trend we may observe is growth in nonprime time during the IPL season especially for GECs. “We may also see some fresh investment in GEC and impact post IPL finale, i.e, after 10th Nov,” he shares.

From a consumer trends perspective, the brand experts foresee greater adoption of digital payments in the country’s smaller towns and villages for recharges, bill payments, purchase of gold digitally, shopping on e-commerce portals, etc. complemented by a rapid rise in the digital purchase of financial services such as mutual funds, insurance, etc.

With over 60 plus sponsors and franchise tie-ups, the stakes are skyrocketing this year with all eyes on IPL 2020. As the experts say, ‘The show must go on’.