The split in the IPL media rights created quite a stir in the media industry, and now Viacom18 Sports announcing that free live streaming for the upcoming 16th edition on the Jio app for free has added to the excitement.
In an interaction with e4m, Anil Jayaraj, CEO of Viacom18 Sports, stated that the goal was to present IPL in a way never done before. "We want to eliminate all barriers in terms of consumption - availability, affordability, and language."
Jayaraj shared that Viacom18 Sports would be providing 24x7 access to fans with the option to watch their favourite moments in their preferred language.
Tackling the affordability factor, Viacom18 Sports has now made IPL streaming free for all.
Furthermore, the telecast will be in 16 to 18 unique feeds, thus removing the third barrier - language. “We believe that consumption can go up dramatically if we can crack these three values. Of course, we'll add a few other features like multi-cam,” said Jayaraj.
Advertiser Advantages on Digital
The response from advertisers has been excellent, Jayaraj said with the CPMs being quite exciting. “We are going to give them an unprecedented reach. This will be bigger than IPL on TV. It will not be bigger by a small amount, but by a massive one and that's why advertisers are quite excited," he added.
Talking about other benefits of digital, Jayaraj said the medium enables advertisers to reach out to specific audiences in a cost-effective and measurable manner. "We also offer connected TVs. This is why advertisers can come to our platform to get consumers both on mobile and TV with comprehensive packages in one place."
Seamless IPL Experience
Jio’s broadcast of the FIFA World Cup surpassed television viewership but the platform encountered some technical difficulties during the first few games.
FIFA, according to Jayaraj, was a huge learning experience. "We used some benchmarks based on how popular football could be. It was an unbelievable surge but we actually delivered a 12 million concurrency on the FIFA final. It's absolutely true that we could have delivered a better experience in the first couple of days. But by the time FIFA ended, we had already solved the issues.”
He went on to say that since then, Viacom18 has invested enormously in terms of capacity and technology. The aim is to deliver an event, which will not only be massive in terms of scale but also be the most-viewed event anywhere in the world, Jayaraj added.
“We have ensured that we can take care of virtually any capacity because India has got 700 million internet users. We now have enough seeding capacity. In addition to enhancing capacity, we have built other links, which ensure that there is no breakage anywhere in the system. We have built the largest tech team possible and also partnered with people who really know how to solve some of these issues.”
Plans for Women’s Premier League
Jayaraj further shared that they were still in the process of finalising for the WPL but said that their focus was very much on digital. “I don't really believe that advertisers will buy television, they only buy digital. There is just not enough advertiser demand for television.”
Viacom18 recently acquired global television and digital rights for Rs 951 crore to broadcast the Women’s Premier League (WPL) from season 2023 to 2027.
When asked if TV and digital were being sold together, Jayaraj disclosed, "We are seeing a lot of demand on digital but not as much on TV, owing to the shift in the increased consumption and engagement on digital. In line with that, we are prioritizing digital over TV."
He further added, “Our intent is to build a consumer base, which is diverse, where we can get people to come in and view the products that they would like. That's the reason we have gone for a variety of sports. We have been quite deliberate in choosing to buy rights that we believe we can monetize. But the idea is very much about building a large portfolio of sports on the back of which we can build a large consumer bass.”