IPL ads through the lens of Hotstar

25 Apr,2022



By Vikas Mehta


Vikas MehtaI am currently travelling and based at a university campus in Telangana. The access to screen is mostly through mobile and as such have been watching IPL on Disney+ Hotstar. Trust me it is a very different experience. Or should I say unusual.On Star Sports the ad breaks seem to be rushed, many a times in a hurry to squeeze in as many ads as possible, the ads have to be rudely interrupted, as the game has resumed. Indeed, sometimes one gets a feeling that we are watching an ad programme with bits and pieces of cricket thrown in. But Hotstar being a subscription-based service, its dependence on advertising revenue is low. So, there are fewer ads and these are not crammed in. Quite, unusual.


But what set me thinking were the types of ads on Hotstar. I was expecting some very different ads. Aimed at the GenZ. The young, mobile generation. In reality, most of the ads were the same that ran on Star Sports, signalling some combined deal or rate.  And a few exclusive ones that I saw were surprisingly targeting a very different consumer segment than what I imagined.


Take, for example, the ad for Samsung curd maestro. No, it’s not a new gizmo launched by Samsung but a refrigerator which has a separate compartment to make fresh curd or dahi. The product is not new, it has been around for some time and I do think that it is a great innovation for our country as curd is a part of our staple diet. Curd making usually requires warm temperature and then we love the curd which is thick and set, not the loose wobbly type. So a fridge which actually makes the curd and let it set, is a welcome feature. But, should it be on Hotstar? Shouldn’t it be on Star TV for a better reach? Or is it targeting the working woman, a millennial, as the ad depicts? Or indeed, it could be targeting the working millennial men. After all, they are being exhorted to share the load.


Then I saw the ad for New Samsung Galaxy S phone. A right fit for the people watching IPL on Hotstar. Maybe, Samsung did a corporate deal with Hotstar and is now distributing the time available to various brands. Not just about the right choice but complying with a good deal.


Then there was the Garnier Hair Colour ad. That too seemed a misfit for Hotstar in my mind. Okay, okay. I do get it that the modern, contemporary lifestyle is making many youngsters get white hair very early, but will a larger segment buying hair colour solution not be watching the match on Star Sports? The ad definitely, given its casting is talking to the millennials.


When I look at both, Garnier and Curd Maestro, another plausible theory comes into mind. As said earlier, Hotstar being a subscription channel, could be selling ad inventory at a lower price and that is encouraging brands, who may be using the platform to address a small or niche segment.


In my mind, there are two bigger or fundamental questions. One: Is OTT a distinct channel with its own dedicated base? Even when at home, an event like IPL, is it watched through OTT or DTH/cable? Irrespective of whether it is watched on big or small screen. How many viewers who subscribe to Hotstar also have DTH connection at home? What is the duplication factor?


Two: Is screen viewing becoming a more individual pursuit? GenZ, even though they are at home and have a DTH connection prefer to watch it on their individual small screens (laptops or mobiles) and the millennials watch it on TV, with friends or families? My dipstick evidence shows that with GenZ, watching sports is becoming an individual pursuit but interestingly, while they do watch alone, they are furiously chatting away with each other, exchanging views, developing memes etc. Normal social behaviour, but in a virtual world.


The one ad that I saw on Hotstar and did not see or maybe missed on Star Sports was that for Slice Credit card. Now I had never heard about this brand except, if my memory serves me right, I see them as the new shirt sponsor for Mumbai Indians. Its benefit is to slice the slow and it is for the fast ones. It has an animated/ cartoon execution but it left me in a daze. Maybe I am too slow for it or out of touch with reality but it looked like an ad which may inspire the GenZ. Are credit cards seriously targeting GenZ? But after a product like Cred, whose purpose is to pay my credit card bills and then reward me for doing so, while surreptitiously collecting all my purchase behaviour data, I can imagine not just a product like Spice Credit Card but also its ads. And the only thing usual, or is it unusual, is its association with MI who have very unusually, or is it becoming usual for them, lost a record eight matches in a row.


Two weeks ago, I had written about how the Tata Neu app showed me a message that Big Basket is not delivering to my area, whereas in reality I have been using BB since some time. I am happy to say that the app seemed to have recovered some ground as this morning I got a message that I have received some Neu coins when I shopped through Big Basket app. The Neu family seems to be coming together.


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