ESPNcricinfo benefits from the return of live sports; expects to post 20-25% rise in advertising revenue in FY21

Sports news website ESPNcricinfo claims to have seen a 30-35% increase in userbase this year during sporting events

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ESPNcricinfo claims to have registered over 100 million active users during IPL and about 75 million active users during the T20 World Cup.

Despite the challenges brought in by the on-going pandemic, sports as a genre of television has recorded a rise in viewership on the back of a clutch of live events including the Indian Premier League (IPL), the Tokyo Olympics, Tokyo Paralympics, IPL phase 2, T20 World Cup and now India vs New Zealand T20. Sports news website ESPNcricinfo too seems to have been able to cash in. “It’s been a good year for us because there has been a lot of sporting events. Starting with the Tokyo Olympics, there has been a line-up of sporting events that increased our audience base and viewership. We saw a 30-35% increase in userbase during these events and are also seeing a great deal of traction in terms of audience engagement and time spent,” Gaurav Thakur, director, marketing and business development, ESPNcricinfo told BrandWagon Online.

The platform claims to have registered over 100 million active users during IPL and about 75 million active users during the T20 World Cup. Similarly, the platform claims to have seen a rise in time spent to 24 minutes on the platform. As per Thakur, the rise in time spent has been due to the additional programming the platform has invested in. “Recently, we’ve been asking ourselves how to create more content around the game coverage. Hence, this year we rolled out a bunch of video content on the platform that is typically pre-game, mid-game and post-match analysis with the experts. For instance, during T20 World Cup, we worked with Tom Moody, Mahela Jayawardene, Gautam Gambhir, Steve Harmison, Deep Dasgupta, Ajit Agarkar, among others to create content that provides deeper insights for our video content,” he elaborated.

The rise in viewership has also brought forth attention from advertisers. The company, which follows the October-September financial calendar, claims to have surpassed FY19 levels of advertising revenue and has seen nearly 20-25% rise in ad revenue in FY21. This is primarily because cricket had resumed after many months and most of the advertisers wanted to leverage this moment to increase their brand visibility. “We had enormous demand during IPL phase 1 which continued to phase 2. Interestingly, sporting events coincided with the festive period, so for most of the advertisers, this proved to be the right time to grow their brand-building,” Thakur said, adding that while FY20 was bad for the platform since the major portion of the year was the lean season, FY21 started with an upward curve on the back of IPL 13 being underway back then.

In order to leverage the rising tide of advertisers, ESPNcricinfo has also rolled out new initiatives in terms of brand solutions for advertisers. For instance, the platform had created a campaign for Dream11, retelling cricketers’ stories with the dream big philosophy. For Thakur, the focus has been on leveraging cricket for the affluent cricket fans onto the platform while being able to create something of value for the advertisers. “Our focus is towards pushing a good brand message towards our viewers rather than simply increasing ad impressions,” he added.

A subsidiary of Walt Disney Company, ESPNcricinfo rolled out its Hindi service back in April during the first phase of IPL 14 with an aim to increase its userbase. Going forward, the platform plans to roll out content in regional languages to better cater to its audience. “We are seeing good traction on our Hindi service despite it being an early stage for us. Our aim is to make sure that wherever there is a cricket fan, he is on our digital platform,” Thakur stated.

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