Disney Star, the official broadcaster and streaming partner for all ICC events, has roped in 28 sponsors for the clash of titans – India and Australia – in the ICC World Test Championship final match, which is anticipated to garner high viewership.
The Star Sports Network has roped in 15 sponsors and Disney+ Hotstar added 13 sponsors across categories ahead of the battle between the cricket rivals that gets underway from June 7 – 11, the company said. Star Sports has onboarded more than 45 brands for the final match to crown the best in test matches.
Increased interest to put money in the test championship final comes at a time when the red-ball cricket has been facing tough blows from galloping craze for the shorter formats of the game. The test match also comes close on the heels of the Indian Premier League that broke several viewership records this year and attracted a big pool of money from sponsors to cash in from the cash-rich league.
In fact, Indians will also watch the game from the same network on both television and digital platforms, after BCCI had split the media rights for IPL between Reliance’s Viacom18 and Disney Star.
What’s there for sponsors to cash in on?
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While there isn’t a ballpark number for the number of viewers the event is going to attract, Disney Star said their index that measures the buzz, affinity, recall and awareness around any upcoming event, is tracking significantly higher than all other test series that have been played over the last four years.
The assembling of context, contest and the competitors is something that promises to make the WTC final match an exciting battle where sponsors are betting for high viewership.
Sanjog Gupta, Head of sports – Disney Star, told ET Online that the context of the contest is one where both India and Australia will be engaged in a scheduled five-day battle to create history. Whoever wins the WTC final match will be the first ever team to win all ICC trophies.
Moreover, the India-Australia fight is one of the most revered rivalries for any Indian fan, right from the time when Steve Waugh called India his final frontier to multiple engaging contests which went down to the wire and to India’s domination over Australia in winning four of the last five series played between the two teams.
“This rivalry or this contest is one of the most anticipated contests in world cricket,” he said.
Gupta said the competitors in the match also make it a match to watch out for and expected to garner a lot of interest. Two of the best batters in the world in Steve Smith and Virat Kohli are in action and the fierce Aussie fast bowling lineup will go up against the Indian openers in conditions which are supposed to be the truest test of a batsman’s capabilities.
The Oval is hosting a game in June for the first time in 140 years, which means that both teams are going to face conditions that they’ve never faced before, even while they were touring England. “So it’s just been set up to be this epic moment or an event which has obviously got most Indian fans excited about it,” Gupta said.
New kids to conglomerates, all board the bus
There have been whispers about how the sponsorship game is taking a turn particularly after media rights have been split between linear and connected TVs or OTT platforms.
However, the list of advertisers doesn’t show any form of bias this time around, as companies, be it startups or legacies and from across domains, have partnered on both broadcast and streaming platforms.
Star Sports’ sponsors include Bajaj Allianz, LAYER’R SHOT, Pokerbaazi, MRF, Samco Securities, Jindal Panther Steel, Ultratech Cement, DBS Bank, Atomberg Technologies, Maruti Suzuki, Charged By Thums Up, Hero Motocorp, Cadbury Dairy Milk, Livguard Energy Technologies, Allied Blenders and Distilleries. In addition to the 15 sponsors, Star Sports has also onboarded 40 advertisers and over 45+ brands.
Baazi Games has joined as the co-presenting sponsor and ICICI Prudential Mutual Fund is the co-power sponsor on Disney+ Hotstar. Bajaj Allianz, Scaler Academy, Policy Bazaar, Paisa Bazaar, Club Mahindra, Coca Cola, HSBC, Maruti Suzuki, Uber, L’Oreal and Castrol have been signed as associate sponsors.
“Typically what we see now is that a new-age company will allot a higher share of ad spend on digital platforms, while companies from FMCG or auto sectors would like to spend more on linear TV. However, it is very advantageous for a brand when they can bundle it on both TV and digital as that ensures reaching out to all types of customers. A Disney Star deal, when they are broadcasting the matches on both platforms, offers that choice,” said Karan Taurani, senior vice president – research analyst (media, consumer discretionary & internet) at Elara Capital.
Riding the IPL boat into WTC
India is unlikely to have a fatigue impact from overdose of cricket as it is a country where millions believe this sport is a religion for them.
Disney Star, which had the TV broadcast right for the over two-month IPL that concluded on May 29 amid massive fan euphoria, had started playing promotional and other videos around the WTC final.
There was a narrative built around to begin with what the squad for the WTC final will be and then what the preparations for the likes of Cheteshwar Pujara or for that matter Virat, the former being in England and the latter playing the IPL, would be like going into the WTC final.
“There is a lot of anticipation that has been built on the back of our coverage in the lead up to the WTC final, which was watched by millions of people as they were watching the IPL,” Gupta said. “Also, the WTC final is on Disney+ Hotstar and all Star Sports channels, which means that there is that much more synergy in the efforts to really elevate both the coverage as well as the campaign around the WTC final.”
The expectation is for the world test championship finals to be special when it comes to the aggregation of viewers that it will bring. Gupta said, bilateral cricket on Star has seen significant growth in viewership over the last six months.
The journey started with the Asia Cup, followed by the T20 World Cup and then continued into the bilaterals where Disney Star saw record-breaking viewing figures even for the test matches between India and Australia.
“So, we are hoping some of that momentum, which got carried into the IPL, will continue to carry on into the WTC final,” he said.
The WTC final also has a reserve day only if there is disruption due to weather.