With Free Hit, Sportskeeda enters the video space: Ajay Pratap Singh
Sportskeeda has always been known for covering all the national and international sports through engaging articles. With the launch of FreeHit, a Sportskeeda Original, should people expect that Sportskeeda is also venturing into videos big time?
Well, there are many questions that sports fans, advertisers, and other major key stakeholders are looking for answers to with the launch of Free Hit.
In an interview with Adgully, Ajay Pratap Singh, Head Marketing and Partnerships of India’s biggest all-sports website, Sportskeeda talks about their first original series, Free Hit. He explains the thought behind Free Hit and Sportskeeda’s plans in the video business space.
Free Hit is launched today with Sourav Ganguly as the first guest. Your thoughts on this?
The first volume of Free Hit has 3 episodes with legendary cricketers like Sourav Ganguly, Kapil Dev, and Yuvraj Singh. All of them filmed in the homes of these cricketers.
We have launched the first episode featuring Sourav Ganguly today. To be honest, I am super excited about the launch of Free Hit and today being the birthday of Sourav Ganguly, I am sure, we couldn’t have got asked for a better launch date than this :)
Lockdown (Covid 19) has hit many industries and sports is one of them. How has the lockdown treated you guys?
Yes, many industries are badly hit by the pandemic and the sports sector is definitely one amongst them. Sports news website like ours is dependent on live sports to happen as we cover a lot of shoulder content. To be honest, April 2020 was very bad in terms of overall revenues. We saw a dip of 70%. However, saw some respite in the month of May. June was an awesome month, we literally saw 400% revenue growth from April!
400% revenue growth? Can you please throw some more light on this?
Ha-Ha, Sure! So, April was a bad month for us. Because no major sports were happening due to lock down the traffic on the site was down and advertisers were also not very keen on spending money. However, we took this situation as a challenge to ourselves. We were quick to sense an opportunity in the Esports and Gaming vertical. We formed a dedicated team to focus on this, did a user-content mapping, and started doing content around this. We saw a 2000% increase in daily traffic on our Esports section within a couple of months. I also take pride in sharing that Sportskeeda is now the no. 1 Esports news site in India.
Also, WWE is back with live action in the USA. Hence, both WWE and Esports have helped us achieve this remarkable turnaround.
(Coming back to Free Hit) Sportskeeda has always been known for articles and text-based news covering. What’s your vision with Free Hit?
I agree, since the inception, our major focus has been on text-based articles and we have been pretty good at that. We have 300+ writers from more than 20 countries producing 2500+ articles a month.
However, we have started focusing on videos also for quite some time now. We did 100Mn views on Facebook in the month of April and 240Mn+ views in the month of May. Free Hit is our first original video series and also marks our first major step towards creating multiple video IPs. Also, we are aiming at 1Bn monthly video views target by the end of this FY.
We don’t see any advertiser/sponsor in the video. Aren’t you looking to monetize it?
As shared earlier, this (Free Hit) is our first original video series. We wanted to focus only on awesome content and quality. Hence, it was a conscious decision of not inviting any advertisers or sponsors.
Coming back to monetization, we are open to working with advertisers, OTT Platforms, etc for our next, Free Hit 2.0, or any other original series.
What can the users expect next from Sportskeeda from an original series perspective?
Well, Free Hit 2.0 is definitely on cards, plus we are also planning something with sports personalities from other sports and not just cricket. We will let the users know once we have the launch date ready.