Not so long ago, a much-feared Indian publisher who shall go unnamed wanted the broadband expansion in India to be slowed down because, well, it would woo readers away from his newspaper to the world wide web.
Well, the times, they are a-changing.
Last month, Indiatimes.com, the internet arm of The Times of India group, bagged the global internet, mobile and audio rights for season 4 of the Indian Premier League (IPL), and the happy coverage of the happy event, and its happy fallout, is a standout example of the perils of cross-media ownership.
Here’s a brief timeline of how the IPL-Indiatimes partnership has been covered on the pages of The Times of India and The Economic Times.
March 22: TIL-Nimbus bag IPL media rights
“Our convergent media approach across the web and mobile, coupled with the strength of the entire Times Group, will take brand IPL to the next level for audiences across the globe,” said Times Internet Limited CEO Rishi Khiani.
“Several traditional brands, who would earlier consider advertising only on television, are now keen to also launch their online campaigns. The primary drivers are innovation and interactivity, possible through this medium. Advertisers will get an opportunity to do better targeted campaigns and reach out to a younger demographic of office-goers,” he said.
Live streaming of the inaugural IPL match between Kolkata Knight Riders and Chennai Super Kings on Friday turned out to be a big hit on the net. The Indiatimes site, where this edition of the IPL is being hosted, had as many as 500,000 unique visitors, a healthy jump from last year…. “The first day was an enormous success,” said Rishi Khiani, CEO Indiatimes. “We had nearly 100% uptime which was a great feat given the amount of traffic.”
Under the terms of the agreement, Google will be a non-exclusive partner for IPL content for two years. Both Google and Indiatimes will seek to capitalize upon individual brand strengths and collaborate on monetization efforts both in India and rest of world markets.
Times Internet CEO Rishi Khiani said the online audience for IPL was experiencing rapid growth compared to the previous edition of the 20-20 league. “We used the first 2 days of the season to iron out all of the kinks in getting the experience to work perfectly for everyone. But from the beginning, the audience growth has been trending higher, with every next day having more visitors than the day before it. On Wednesday we had over one million visits.”
April 19: Online viewership of IPL rises 62%
“We foresee a bright future for online screening of IPL matches in coming years,” said Rishi Khiani, CEO, Times Internet. “A common misconception is that people only watch online from the office. But our stats show that night games have almost as much consumption as day games. The experience allows you to do much more online, including watching highlights of previous matches, and viewers like that,” he added.
Indiatimes CEO Rishi Khiani said: “We routinely receive one comment per second during a match, which can spike up to three comments per second during exciting periods. Indians are passionate about cricket and love talking about it, and what better way to do so than online? You can catch up with old friends, make new ones, share stats and trivia, get involved in debates – and do all this without missing a single ball.”