Star India overcomes obstacles in making World Cup a hit

MUMBAI: Not long ago speculations were drawn that cricket’s biggest tournament may emerge as a super flop in India courtesy Team India’s feeble performances Down Under, the questioned integrity of the sport and odd timings of the matches. Adding to the list of negatives was the absence of Sachin Tendulkar and Yuvraj Singh. India, after two decades, was playing a World Cup without the master blaster, who is also known as the God of Cricket in India. 


However, as is said - where there is a will there is a way.  The young Indian brigade which was was looking like a beaten lot, pulled up their socks and came together as a unit, and lo and behold the magic was back. And that was more than evident from their first match performance against Pakistan. Indian cricket fans - who had been wearing frowns, and had their noses turned up in disgust reading about the legal proceedings in the sports pages -  are now rejoicing, celebrating the Indian team's going from strength to strength. Adding to their delight have been the stellar batting displays from Sri Lanka's Kumar Sangakarra, West Indie's Chris Gayle, South Africa's AB De Vlliers, and the tough fights  associate teams have been giving more established national sides. All this has made the tournament a worthy exhibition and created a perfect platform for Star India. 


“With India being the defending champions, interest from viewers and advertisers for the World Cup was very positive from the start. We started the World Cup with over 30 sponsors on board and the first India game, against arch rivals Pakistan had 93 advertisers showcasing their brands across digital and TV. In the first two weeks only, the advertiser as well as sponsor count for the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup is 50 per cent higher than 2011 edition as well as the IPL. We currently have 38 sponsors across feeds and World Cup programming and over 100 brands advertising during the ongoing World Cup. With India’s strong performances, there is a cricket frenzy through the nation. We have been in talks with more brands for coming on board cricket’s biggest extravaganza, the ICC Cricket World Cup,” says a Star India spokesperson.


The ICC World Cup has opened doors for many first time advertisers and buoyed by the progress so far, there are many brands that are also lining up to the brigade. “For the India - West Indies game we had added, Max Life Insurance, Hike, UP Tourism, Reliance Communications and Joy Alukkas as advertisers for the game,” asserts the channel official.


“India stepped into the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 as the defending champions and we at Star have introduced numerous ‘Firsts’ that would bring the entire World Cup experience closer to the fans. These include broadcast in multiple regional languages and first ever global telecast in 4K technology among others. Our efforts have borne fruits as within the first two weeks, 473 million viewers tuned into their television sets to capture the live action of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. As the race for a berth in the quarter-finals heats up, the viewers’ excitement is sure to go through the roof,” says the spokesperson, describing expectations from the tournament. 


According to Star, by the beginning of the knock out rounds of World Cup 2015, all the past TV viewership records registered in India by a sporting event, which includes World Cup 2011 and various seasons of Indian Premier League (IPL), have been surpassed. 


The World Cup so far has seen an exhibition of sportsman spirit and quality cricket. Speaking to veteran cricket analyst Hemant Kenkre said, “The quality of games this year has been outstanding. We have seen a few mind-blowing individual performances but the team efforts were unbelievable. I know there were a few questions that emerged before the tournament started but no one remembers them now. Now everyone will cheer for team India because the way they have performed so far. Match fixing speculations are nothing new; it was always there since 1999 – 2000. It is just that the country needed good performances from team India and the India VS Pakistan match gave the necessary ignition. The tournament will grow bigger in terms of sponsorship and viewership if India plays well. And I would be highly disappointed if ICC restricts the World Cup to 10 teams. Being associated with the Singapore Cricket Association, I know the hard work the associate teams put and if a championship is restricted to 10 teams then it will disappoint and demotivate all the aspirants.” 


Credit should also be given to Star Sports for unveiling up the Mauka campaign. After every India match, the broadcaster has been unleashing a new promo, which engages viewers and starts trending across social media platforms.


Drawing light on the reverberating Mauka campaign, the Star India spokesperson adds, “Cricket is nothing less than a religion in India and nothing is bigger than the ICC Cricket World Cup for millions of cricket fanatics. The Mauka campaign struck the right chord among fans as it portrayed the World Cup from a fan’s lens. The idea was at a human level, it was true, funny and ignited a sense of pride without being nasty to the opponents. The film received great response online and on social media from fans across the two countries. The campaign was promoted across 45 channels including news, movies, regional, films, GEC genre and it has received close to 17 million views online making it the most viewed campaign during the World Cup.”


Depicting the commercial growth of the tournament, Maxus Global managing director Kartik Sharma said, “Typically sporting events start with a certain base expectation, which is dependent on recent performances of the playing teams. The cricket World Cup is no exception to this and people's expectations were dependent on India's recent performances. With two very interesting India matches everything has changed and more people are now interested in them. Ad rates are a function of early sponsors and also last minute advertisers who might want to utilise it tactically. Rates reflect recent interest in matches. It's critical that matches have close finishes, which will fuel the interest of viewers irrespective of which country plays.”


Helios Media managing director Divya Radhakrishnan adds, “The tournament has already made its impression in advertisers' mind and hence all the speculations that were drawn in the initial stages because of controversies and absence of Sachin Tendulkar have been put to an end.”    


Expectations have in fact been surpassed so far with Ireland defeating West Indies and Bangladesh knocking out cricket inventor England. Every cricket lover wants last over finishes and close encounters, and this World Cup so far has offered it. If permutations and combinations are to be believed, India is set to face Bangladesh in the quarter finals and despite having a rough start, Pakistan is also on the verge of securing a quarter final berth. This increases the probability of another Indo-Pak bout, which will be the icing on the cake for both viewers and Star India as it will definitely up the the brand value of the tournament.

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