IPL: A Social Media League

“A South African bowler takes a wicket of an Australian batsman which results in an Indian captain rejoicing. Welcome to the IPL.” This was a tweet during the first IPL match of the 6th edition which is currently underway.

The Indian Premier League is a T20 cricket tournament which is played over 55 days and showcases the world’s best cricketers who play with domestic Indian talent.  There are 9 teams in the fray who play against each other twice. It is a sporting league which has grown to magnanimous proportions. The numbers tell the story. Around a billion cricket crazy fans watch it in stadiums, televisions and computer screens combined. In some ways, the rise of India has contributed to the rise of the game of cricket.

Social Media has played a big role in making the league digitally interactive and the fans have lapped it up. On an average, 20000 to 22000 tweets are sent out during any match. Each match lasts about 3.5 hours. The tweets are anywhere between 5000 to 6000 per hour! Currently, the number of tweets for #IPL are above 5 million and counting. All the matches are streamed live on YouTube across the world (except USA) and there are thousands who watch it live every day. Over the years, there has been a steady growth in the online viewership of the IPL. Hence, it doesn’t come as a surprise that contracts with YouTube has been renewed for millions of dollars. In fact, YouTube has enhanced the experience for IPL viewers with a strong Google+ integration.

All of the 9 teams are active on major social networks. Twitter witnesses the most activity as it is used for match updates and fan interactions. Apart from the different teams having a twitter account, @IPL is the hub for all things IPL on twitter. The IPL discovery page on twitter gives a lowdown on key profiles related to the IPL and it has a list of updates curated by twitter India.  The website of the IPL has a high interactive quotient with a special section for twitter and the latest updates from different teams are behind social logins.  The primary hash tags are #PepsiIPL and #IPL and different relevant hash tags for the teams that are playing. During match days, there is an option to join the conversation from the website directly.  Moreover, while the match is on, the twitter team battles are showed on TV during live telecast. It is a graph which depicts which team is garnering more loyalty on twitter as per the relevant team hash tag.

In India, the TV audience is far greater than the digital/social audience. But TV ratings for the IPL have dipped over the years and advertisers are investing more in social media than the traditional media. However, Cadbury has done something interesting as they have used the mainstream media to take the conversation to social media by leveraging IPL. They created a hash tag and advertised it heavily thereby tapping into the IPL audience without being a lead sponsor. Featuring of a hash tag in a major ad also caught the attention of the guys at twitter.  Hence, the IPL has provided a unique opportunity for advertisers to connect mainstream media and social media.

The IPL has certainly managed to tap into the youth’s conscience by leveraging social media. We know that the league lasts for a couple of months and after that the frenzy dies down. The IPL is yet to figure out a strategy that keeps the audience engaged after the league is over. Having said that, the Indian Premier League has been an astounding social media success primarily because Indians love Cricket and Social Media penetration is on the rise. Millions of cricket fans now have a medium to voice their opinions about a game that’s close to their heart.

References:

(1)   The IPL Website: http://www.iplt20.com/
(2) IPL YouTube account: http://www.youtube.com/indiatimes

Image adapted from: http://bit.ly/YJ4jRP

Pepsi IPL Logo adapted from: http://bit.ly/13atYSK