Times Internet Limited* (Indiatimes) is planning to integrate brands through gifts as a part of gamifying the experience of watching the web stream of fifth season of the Indian Premier League, apart from launching a revamped web portal and a video timeline scorecard. A consortium led by Indiatimes had won the global rights to the Indian Premier League for Internet, Mobile, Radio and Television (for certain territories) for a total rights fee of Rs. 261.6 crore rupees for the four year period 2011-14, last year. Indiatimes CEO Rishi Khiani, said that the company had witnessed a 40% rise in revenue from the IPL, and expects to break even, this year.

Some notes from a press briefing held by Indiatimes yesterday:

– Marketing Spends: The company claims it will spending $6-$7 million on marketing and promotion for the IPL, which it says is comparatively less than what it spent last year.

– A video timeline scorecard: The site is still in development (we got a sneak peek at the press briefing), but it will allow viewers to click on events like sixes and wickets or fifties and hundreds, and go back to that point in the match, and then switch to realtime stream, essentially working like a DVR. According to Indiatimes, the feed will be available in different bit rates, depending on the network connection at the user’s end, with the maximum being a 16:9 HD broadcast. The video stream is deferred live, with a delay of 5 minutes.

– Celebrity Tweets, Trivia, Chats & Merchandise: The site will also feature celebrity tweets on live matches, match key moments, trending videos and news stories, fun facts and trivia about teams, player profiles and statistics,  pre-match shows featuring analysis and expert comments, an RSS feed from the Times of India covering IPL news and special highlights. Besides these, it would also feature blogs, picture galleries, live chats, and merchandise auctions, apart from an interactive match schedule in a wagon wheel format.

– Brand integration: The site would allow advertisers to integrate their brands with content sections. For instance, there’s a virtual cheer leader that animates when a particular event takes place. This could be integrated with a brand, for example (hypothetical), a Vodafone ZooZoo could be a cheer leader. Brands can also integrate with the virtual game and match highlights, or moments of the match, for example a Happy Moments segment for a century or half-century.

 

– Gamification & Branding: The site will also feature a section called, IPL Battleground, a virtual game that will allow supporters of particular teams to cheer their respective teams, send messages to players, and throw virtual tomatoes or eggs, to score against the opponent team. This would be integrated with Facebook, and will appear on the Facebook feed of users. When we asked if the game could feature virtual goods and involve transactions Khiani, responded that they plan to do some kind of integration, wherein Battleground players could discover easter eggs and get rewarded with goodies like merchandise or a face to face meeting with their favorite player, through advertiser tie-ups, so as to bring physical a deliverable aspect to the virtual game.

– Tie-Ups: While Coca Cola, Samsung, and Maruti have signed up as main sponsors, other sponsors include HUL, Hero, Citibank, eBay, Karbonn Mobile and Kotak Mahindra Bank. Indiatimes is also in negotiations with seven IPL franchises/teams for exclusive access. The company will offer customised microsites, fan merchandise.  memorabilia and other related offerings, which will also be part of an auction section on the main Indiatimes-IPL website.

– Keeping 100% Ad Revenue On YouTube: Similar to the last series, a parallel live feed will be offered on YouTube. On ad revenue sharing, Khiani said that since Indiatimes was selling and managing ad inventory for YouTube, it was keeping 100% of the revenue. It’s worth noting that these sponsorship deals are for Indian territory have been inked only for the Indian territory, and for other regions the company has inked deals with other sponsors, which it has not divulged, in addition to tie-ups with ad networks and aggregators. Indiatimes also plans to follow a Pay-Per-View model for the match stream in two major markets. However, Khiani refused to divulge the names of these markets and of partners.

– Radio Rights: Although Indiatimes had the radio rights for the previous edition of the IPL, it had not sold them. This year, All India Radio has acquired the radio commentary rights from Indiatimes, as part of a revenue sharing deal. Khiani did not disclose the exact details of the arrangement.

– Paid Mobile Apps From Apalya: The matches will be streamed on Indian telecom operator decks through Apalya, Indiatimes’ mobile partner. In addition to that it will also offer mobile apps on Android and iOS. While the Android app, which will be offered free, will not feature a live stream, the iPhone and iPad apps will be priced at $4.99 and $9.99, respectively  and will offer a live stream. Indiatimes will also offer video clips via its 58888 mobile service, in addition to commentary on IVR.  Khiani clarified that the IVR version would not be a repurposed version of the AIR commentary.

– Chasing pirates: Indiatimes says that it’s taking preemptive measures to tackle illegal streaming sites and that it has a team which keeps a watch, however, they admit that it’s difficult to keep track of these sites as new ones come up every few days. The company had sent 300 take down notices per match, last year.

Doing the math

The average cost per year for the rights for Indiatimes and the consortium (which includes overseas broadcasting rights) is Rs 65.4 crores, and this year, if you add another $7 million in marketing spends, that is another Rs 35 crore. This means that the base cost of rights for the consortium is at least Rs 100 crore this year. High stakes, and this is where splitting and up-selling rights comes in.

Update: added the bit about overseas broadcasting rights in the ‘doing the math’ segment.

 * Disclosure: Indiatimes is an advertiser with MediaNama