Campaign Face Off: Star Sports & JioCinema - The IPL Blitzkrieg

Pranali Tawte
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Star Sports vs JioCinema

In conversation with industry experts, Social Samosa tries to decode who did it better on the marketing front: Star Sports vs JioCinema. We take a closer look at the platforms’ marketing activities on social, digital and discuss which marketing tactic has an upper hand. 

The 16th edition of the Men’s Indian Premier League (IPL) has not only seen a battle between teams but media platforms have locked horns too. Ever since the auction that saw media rights getting divided between two platforms, Disney Star and Viacom18 have been leaving no stone unturned in attracting users and advertisers to get the most bang for their buck. 

Both the media giants have roped in celebrities, new brand ambassadors, and launched a series of campaigns taking a dig at each other. Social Samosa speaks to the third umpires of the A&M industry to find out who will win the war of creativity and attain their goal of viewership and revenues.

Campaigns that talk about TV vs Digital benefits

IPL has been a community viewing experience. It often brings friends and families together. To show how the game becomes more interesting when it is shared with others, Disney Star has launched  ‘Shor on, Game on!’ music anthem. The first-leg of the campaign, created and conceptualized by the in-house team of Disney Star, captures how the excitement of fans encourages the players to achieve incredulous moments and features cricketers Rohit Sharma, Hardik Pandya, and KL Rahul.

The second leg of the campaign, ‘Virat Roars! Shor On, Game On,’ conceptualized by Tilt Brand Solutions, talked more about transforming your home into a stadium during the game.


It can be observed that Star Sports is focusing on the emotion behind cricket. 


Breaking down the brief that was shared with the agency behind Star Sports, Shriram Iyer, Co-founder & Group CCO, Quotient Ventures (Tilt Brand Solutions | Vector Brand Solutions | StudioQ), said, “TV offers the next best experience to the stadium itself when it comes to LIVE sports. And the marketing team at Star Sports simply articulated that as the point to dramatize. From there on, with the sheer might of a fine actor, and I daresay actor, while am referring to perhaps the greatest batsman alive, Virat Kohli. The script writes itself when the brief is this sharp.” 

Iyer told Social Samosa that Star Sports spent a majority of its marketing budget on TV and maintained a healthy mix of every mainstream vehicle available online. 

In the third leg of its campaign ‘Do you feel the Shor’, Star launched ‘Subtitled Feed’, for the hearing impaired. The film showcases fans of MS Dhoni chanting his name in a packed stadium, showcasing the passion and emotion that he can bring out among cricket aficionados.

Star Sports has also enlisted Superstar Ranveer Singh as the brand ambassador, who is the most valued celebrity of 2022 with a brand value of USD 181.7 million according to Kroll report.

Star has also onboarded Ajay Devgn and Men’s IPL team captains Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, and Hardik Pandya. 

As Star Sports’ Shor on campaign continues, JioCinema is focusing on benefits that its streaming platform offers to viewers with the campaign ‘Digital India ka Digital IPL.’ It has also turned to celebrities to increase the buzz.

Featuring MS Dhoni and Suryakumar Yadav and actors Shweta Tripathi and Abhishek Banerjee, JioCinema encourages the audience to enjoy their favorite sport with its digital-centric features and focuses on the ‘freemium’ bit. The campaign highlights features such as 4K streaming, 360-degree view/multiple camera angle viewing, and gamification. This campaign is conceptualized by Ogilvy and produced by Chrome Pictures.

JioCinema’s larger marketing strategy seems to revolve around the biggest tool in its arsenal - ‘Free Streaming.’ It is also talking about its regional approach in ads as the match is being streamed in 12 languages.

IPL marketing game on social media platforms

JioCinema has also extended this cut-throat competition to its social media platforms, where JioCinema is seen talking about the disadvantages of watching the T20 match on the ‘idiot box,’ taking an indirect dig at Star Sports.

Social Media Battle

JioCinema is actively using its social media and gaining engagement through meme marketing, influencer marketing, celebrity marketing, and more. The media platform has also been making content in different languages to promote the idea that Men’s IPL streams in 12 languages on JioCinema. 

On the other hand, Star Sports has extended its marketing activities on social media and offline. It has been carrying out engaging activities like #MysocietyStadium where the audience is asked to share photos & videos with hashtags, and cricketers are going around different cities and visiting society screenings to promote community viewing. 

Simliarly, Star Sports also has #AskStar segment, where the audience can send their questions using the hashtag and experts answer their queries.

Additionally, ahead of the IPL, Star Sports did a Trophy Tour in different cities where the audience showed their presence and excitement. The trophy tour had planned flash mobs and other such activities to increase engagement. The broadcasting platform has also collaborated with content creators and standup comedians to increase its reach.

Also Read: The IPL Tug Of War – TV & Digital pull out all stops, but winner remains undecided

Expert speak: Star Sports V/S JioCinema


Jio's challenge in the market is not ordinary, feels Vaibhav Ajmera, Director – Business and Services, Liqvd Asia. However, he feels that Star has taken an approach that connects with the masses.

“In this campaign game, I feel Star has the edge in the way they have been able to continue the conversation of inclusivity to celebrate India's biggest festival,” Ajmera told Social Samosa. 


On the other hand, Naresh Gupta, Co-Founder, Bang in the middle appreciated JioCinema’s marketing efforts. 

“The Jio campaign is far more engaging than the Star ‘Ab Shor Macha’ campaign. While I like the insight of togetherness and stadium feel, I find the JioCinema campaign to be far more persuasive and engaging. Star needed a breakthrough and create a story that makes people feel that there is something new, but they carried the same story forward as the last couple of years. Jio is the challenger and is doing a newer thing,” said Gupta. 


Looking at the creative competition brewing between Star Sports and JioCinema, Rahul Mathew, Chief Creative Officer, DDB Mudra Group, said that it is a classic leader-vs-challenger story at play. He believes that Star is building on the passion for IPL, counting on the habits around community viewing to be their recipe for success, while JioCinema is going about it by disrupting the viewing experience itself. 

Sharing who has an edge so far, he said, “The JioCinema campaign piques more interest because of what it offers to the viewer. In sports, it has always been about how much closer you can get to the game, and the many features on the app do just that.”


Anuj Khanna, Co-founder, Brand Visage Communications told Social Samosa that JioCinema has done a better job in creating awareness to watch IPL for free this season.

He said, “In ROI terms, I feel, Star sports will be able to achieve better ROI due to mainline TV ad revenue, subscription costs, and digital ad revenue.”


Independent communications expert Karthik Srinivasan pointed out the similarities between the campaign in his blog and asked, “What is JioCinema really pitching that is different from Star Sports’ version of IPL?” 

He explained that even if the ‘Digital India ka Digital IPL’ campaign demonstrates the interactive features on the mobile screen, the situation is exactly like that of ‘Shor on, Game on!’ campaign. In both of these campaigns, a group of people is seen enjoying IPL together, jumping, cheering, and shouting with a minor difference in the screen. He said both these screens are tiny with respect to the number of the audience watching the match. 

“While the references to ‘idiot box’ and ‘channel’ is appropriate, I don’t think Ogilvy has thought through what their primary sales pitch is as sharply as how Star Sports has defined it,” Srinivasan wrote on his blog.

So far, in terms of viewership, JioCinema has seen over 10 crore new viewers and 5 crore new app downloads in the first three days of IPL. 

On the other hand, Disney Star have clocked a total of 8.7 billion minutes of consumption on TV for the opening match, recording a 47% growth in comparison to last year. Its report said that 140 million viewers tuned in for the live broadcast on opening day. 

Batting for a bigger share of the revenue pie

IPL will be streamed free to millions of mobile broadband users and CTV households for the first time ever, adding a new dimension to the tournament's reach and popularity. 

However, cricket and especially IPL being a community-viewing sport, Star can have an upper hand here. 


Lloyd Mathias, Business Strategist, and Marketing Expert highlighted that between 2019 and 2022, the number of brands using TV dropped from 16,000 to 13,000, and during the same period, the number of brands using digital moved from 33,000 to 1,08,000. 

He said, “This data shows that a lot more advertisers can get into digital because of the low ticket size. JioCinema will use the ability of digital to target niche segments using personalization – bringing in a lot many small advertisers into the fold. However, given the high cost of the rights, they have a tough task of significantly increasing revenue from advertisers – than what advertisers paid to Hotstar – who held the streaming rights till last year.”

Disney Star has spent Rs 23,575 crore on TV rights and Viacom18 has bagged the digital rights in Rs 20,500 crore. 

Mathias explained that till last year, the ad spends on IPL were weighted 80:20 in favor of TV – but from this year onwards, the competition will intensify. He believes JioCinema will have to work twice as hard to break fresh ground.

Ajmera mentioned that Star will be able to maximize it's revenue generation with an aim of increasing 100 million viewers this year on TV by broadcasting the match across 22 channels.

On the other hand, Ajmera added that Jio's strategy of getting a user addicted to the product with free offerings like free viewing, free 5G will benefit Jio Telecom and Jio cinemas collectively with a sharp rise in the viewers and also the number of people porting to the Jio network.

“In conclusion Star will have a better ROI this season but in the future we will notice the paradigm shift to Digital consumption with increased penetration of Smart TV's and Faster internet in the country,” said Ajmera.

IPL 2023 Men's IPL 2023 Star Sports vs JioCinema