Sony eyes 15-20% hike in ad revenues for Vivo IPL 2016

With roughly a month left for Season 9 of the Indian Premiere League (IPL), Sony Pictures Networks yesterday unveiled its new campaign – ‘Ek India Happywala’. The tournament, which commences on April 9, 2016 has a new title sponsor this year, Vivo Mobiles, after Pepsi dropped out. The presenting sponsors are Oppo Mobiles, Amazon, and Vodafone. Other sponsors include Freecharge, Tata Sky, Ceat, Raymond, Vimal Pan Masala, and Coca-Cola, among others.

Vivo IPL 2016 will be aired in Hindi on Sony Max and Sony Six. In addition, Sony Six will also carry Tamil, Telugu and Bengali language feeds. Sony Six HD as well as the Sony ESPN cluster of channels will air the English language feed of Vivo IPL.

The ad rates for Season 9 of IPL have been hiked while ad rates for the HD feed have been doubled, but despite this hike, Sony has been able to sell most of the ad inventory, Rohit Gupta, President, Network Sales, Sony Pictures Networks, claimed. He also informed that ad rates for the SD feed were up 15 per cent compared to the previous season.

IPL Season 8 had seen ad revenues of around Rs 1,000 crore. Gupta said that this year they were expecting a hike of 15-20 per cent in ad revenues.

Ek India Happywala

This year’s Vivo IPL campaign, ‘Ek India Happywala’ implores every Indian in every corner of the world to build an empowered India – a nation that respects differences in its cultural fabric, but at the same time rises above those differences to create an atmosphere of dignity and harmony.

Watch the ‘Ek India Happywala’ ad here:

Speaking at the event to unveil the campaign, NP Singh, CEO, Sony Pictures Networks India, said, “From programming content to contribution to society, we want to make ‘Ek India Happywala’ our call to action. So, at Sony Pictures Networks India, our CSR initiatives will be cascaded under the aegis of ‘Ek India Happywala’. This is our way of ensuring that the ethos of the campaign stays alive much after Vivo IPL Season 9 is over.”

On the concept of ‘happiness’ for the latest IPL campaign, Singh explained, “Let’s go back one year to our previous season’s campaign – ‘Yeh hai India ka tyohaar’ – and think about what happens when there is a big festival coming up. People are happy and it’s a once-in-a-year event to look forward to it. People prepare for it. Whether or not you celebrate that festival, it is festive season and you feel great. That is what IPL also does. Those two months – April and May – people wait for them and when IPL comes, they get immersed in the tournament and there are only smiling faces when you see people watching the IPL matches. So, if that is what IPL does then why not communicate that message? So this was the intent for us to come up with the idea of ‘Make India happywala’. We want to communicate a very positive message to our viewers through IPL and through our CSR initiatives as well. There are three things that we are focusing on – education, environment and empowerment.”

Watch ‘India Ka Tyohaar’ ad here:

Sony has been the official broadcaster for IPL since 2008, when the tournament had commenced. The marketing campaigns of the previous seasons have generated huge buzz – be it ‘Entertainment ka Baap’, ‘Saare Jahan Se Aacha’, ‘Jumping Jhapang’, ‘Mauka for Chauka’ or last year’s ‘Yeh Hai India ka Tayohaar’.

Cricket is a uniting factor

Speaking more on the different track taken by the latest IPL campaign, Neeraj Vyas, Senior EVP and Business Head, Sony Mix, Sony Max and Max 2, remarked, “There is absolutely nothing that tells you that you should do the same thing that you have done before. At the end of the day everyone realises that it’s a mature turnover. It’s not something that we are trying to establish. IPL has taken an emotional leap in people’s minds. People are attached to it. They think ‘it’s our event’. If you see IPL compared to any other tournament, you see more and more women and kids going to the stadiums. 35-40 per cent of the viewership is female and it is the only cricket tournament which has such ratings. So it is at a different pedestal entirely. There is same team of DDB Mudra, led by Sonal Dabral, has created the ‘Ek India Happywala’ campaign.”

He further said that the brief was clear, “we just wanted to deliver a message of peace. Cricket is a uniting factor and IPL is an iconic brand that brings people together.”

However, when watches the ‘Ek India Happywala’ campaign, one can’t help but remember the ‘Umeedon waali dhoop, sunshine wali aasha’ campaign done by McCann for Coca Coca. When asked about this, Vyas said, “It’s a perspective; it’s a point of view. ‘Ek India Happywala’ is a campaign that connects with the audience, it comes straight from the heart. It is a plea to the nation to be happy. There are seven TVCs all together and each one will enfold over a period of time.”

Marketing activities

“We will have the hygiene elements in terms of the large Sony platforms for sure, which is already on. We will get into channels outside our network towards the end of the month. A lot of things are fluid this year essentially because the ICC T20 World Cup is on. So all the campaigns will be delivered as and when we think it is the right time to do it,” Vyas added.

Digital drive

Vyas further said, “Digital obviously has been growing for the last two to three years and digital presence is necessary today. We will have a lot of activations on Facebook and Twitter as well. Tonic is going to do all this.”

The power of language commentary

“Last year we had done a lot of research specifically for the Hindi feed and had introduced Hindi graphics for the first time besides testing out Hindi commentators. You cannot negate the power of language commentary. More and more people will want to listen or watch television in the language that they are comfortable in,” noted Vyas.

He added, “On a scale of 1 to 10, one person who ticks 99 out of 100 boxes is Navjot Singh Siddhu. He is a legend for people and they love what he does and says. Gaurav is another commentator on board; those ‘Extraa Innings’ with Gaurav, Sameer and Sherry have been a big hit.”

Setting the right pitch

Vivo IPL 2016 will also air on Sony ESPN. As is known, earlier this year ESPN tied up with Sony Pictures Networks to launch as Sony ESPN in India. The channel will air English language feed of Vivo IPL.

Prasanna Krishnan, Business Head, Sony Six, remarked that Sony and ESPN coming together for a long term perspective made a lot of sense. He added that IPL airing on Sony ESPN would give the tournament an added advantage as brand ESPN had set a benchmark in sports broadcasting, providing a holistic sports viewing experience that went beyond just live coverage to include superior production quality, wraparound shows, discussion shows, etc.

Krishnan added, “On the digital front, too, ESPN is a world-wide leader. Expanding our association to the digital space, we will create a co-branded sports portal which will be on the Internet and across apps and will cover all sports. It will supplement and enhance what we do on television and aim to be a sought-after digital sports destination.”

He further said that campaigns in different languages would be released in different regions to communicate awareness about these services to the viewers.

“Besides cricket, tennis, fight sports and basketball are the pillars on which we are building our sports content. The idea is to focus on something core, which provides a holistic viewing experience in each of these sports and become the destination for each of these sports,” Krishnan concluded.


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