By Asmita Dey
As the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2019 kicks in from March 23, Varun Narang, chief product officer at over-the-top platform Hotstar, tells FE’s Asmita Dey that over 300 million viewers are estimated to log into Hotstar to watch the cricket event this season. Excerpts:
What is your estimate of IPL viewership this season?
We are expecting over 300 million viewers to watch IPL this season on Hotstar.
How are the ad rates for this season’s IPL priced?
Our goal this year is to make IPL reachable to every small and large client. Our pricing is just Rs 120 CPM (cost per thousand impressions) which is the lowest ever CPM on the biggest sporting event, which is IPL.
Can you give us an estimate of the ad revenues you are looking to garner from IPL this season?
We do not comment on revenue numbers. But what we are seeing is strong growth in terms of our brand experiences as well as solutions that we are creating. A bunch of advertisers are new for this IPL.
This year you have introduced a social cricket watching experience. With the theme of social layer at play, what is the scale of customer engagement that you are looking at?
We are on an exciting journey and believe that the way people are going to be consuming content around the world in the years to come has not even been invented yet. And we are in a very lucky position to have access to great content and a great engineering team to be able to experiment, innovate and develop the future of entertainment. There are two areas that we are focusing on right now. One is gamification that can make one’s match watching experience even more interesting and compelling than it already is. The other is social where viewers will get the opportunity to invite their friends and family to Hotstar, enabling them to watch the matches, chat and participate in the Watch N’ Play game together. Last year, there were something like over 30 million of our users engaged with our social features and this year we expect that number to be significantly higher.
Do you generally see a rise in paid subscribers during IPL?
There is a pattern that plays out. There is a base line of our engagement – like number of users coming in and how much time they spend with us. During IPL, there is a big peak in terms of demand and when we exit out of IPL, we always notice that the base line itself shifts up. After IPL, we see a higher base line of users who are paying.