IPL 5: Indiatimes to make experience better: Rishi Khiani

29 Mar,2012

[youtube width=”400″ height=”200″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NTWC38mFJB0[/youtube]

By Shruti Pushkarna

 

The Indian Premier League (IPL) has signed up with indiatimes.com to be its official online broadcaster for IPL 2012. Addressing the media in New Delhi, Rishi Khiani, CEO, Times Internet Limited shared the enthralling online cricket experience indiatimes.com is set to roll out with its unique new features this year. This is indiatimes’ second IPL season as official online broadcaster.

 

Mr Khiani shared the new product features that have been added to enrich the viewers’ experience this season. Citing the differentiating factors from last year, he said, “We have taken a lot of social features that we played with last year and the Facebook integration that we did last year and moved to a whole new level. We’ve got something called the IPL Battle Ground which is a far more community driven game-ified version of the Facebook chat that we had last year. So the whole community element is a big differentiator. We have taken the offline experience of watching cricket with friends and made it even more interactive. We have added far more features to the player this season. We have added cue points and a video scorecard below the player. Another functionality that has been built into the player this year is the DVR, Digital Video Recording, this allows you to go back in time to watch something you have missed.”

 

Indiatimes observed a 79 percent increase in viewership in India last season, and is expecting a similar increase this season as well. Statistics suggest an equal split between the male and female viewership ratio online. To make this season bigger and better, certain innovations have been made to add to the wholesome IPL experience. The homepage is designed in a way that it has everything in and around IPL which makes it in a way, ‘destination IPL’, with all the touch points of IPL in one place. Other innovations include an interactive scorecard, DVR, a high definition video player and a Video on Demand (VOD) section. The VOD page will have a lot of editorial packaging in the form of celebrity moments in the match, fun moments in the match, packages of all Fours or all Sixes and so on. Some of the other content features that have been added this year are, latest tweets, Match key moments, Fun Facts, Player interviews, Pre-match shows and TOI RSS feeds.

 

Addressing a concern on connectivity issues while viewing live feed online, Mr Khiani said, “The video player is built in with an adaptive streaming as per network availability. We have created a stream that would work for broadband connection but also work really well for people who have narrowband connections, so connectivity shouldn’t be an issue.”

 

Mr Khiani also said that their idea is to create a 360 degree experience, a holistic experience which is something that TV cannot create. Indiatimes has partnered with All India Radio (AIR) for IPL commentary, so all cricket fans can tune into AIR to listen to commentary of IPL. The commentary will also be available on an IVR which will have the advantage of giving a recap of sorts every time one dials in.

 

Mr Khiani stated that the total spends for this season would amount to around $6 million. Talking about the overall investment this year, Mr Khiani said, “We will probably spend less this year in marketing because last year it was just ten days before the tournament and we had to make sure that we got all eyeballs onto the site, but this year we know what works and what doesn’t work. We have a community base that’s already been built up last year that we can do some sort of targeting to. So the costs have actually come down in terms of marketing.” In terms of revenue, he said that a 40 percent increase has already been recorded from last year and they are expected to break even this year.

 

Sponsors for this year who have already signed up include Coke, Samsung and Maruti as presenting sponsors. Out of these, Maruti and Samsung are repeat sponsors from last year. HUL and Hero have signed up as the co sponsors for this season, again both are repeat sponsors from last season. Sponsors under the New Partner Categories include, E Bay, Kotak Mahindra bank, Citi Bank and Karbonn Mobiles.

 

Mr Khiani said that Indiatimes has observed a clear growth in terms of both page views and monetization through the sponsors. He also said that a tournament like IPL has a ‘halo effect’ in terms of returns on investment. He said, “The halo effect is something that we see not just from current monetization this season but from annual deals we do, like the video inventory that we sell. We also introduce new formats for potential advertisers who then get introduced to the Times Network and once they are introduced to the Times Network and they have seen return on investment, they are bound to advertise with us. We’ve seen them advertise with us through the year. So that halo effect kicks in. So in terms of monetization, it is a good investment and in terms of the brand association with IPL and the halo effect, it’s even better.”

 

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