Indians prefer watching Olympics on new media; are brands listening?

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London Olympics 2012 kick started last week and this time the games seem to have generated significant interest among the otherwise cricket centric Indian audience. What is even more interesting is the fact that majority of the audience are keen on watching the Olympics on new media platforms like online, mobile phones and tablets. What does this mean for brands and marketers? Pitchonnet.com explores further to find out.

The new media fascination
According to a survey by global market research firm Ipsos, 90 per cent Indian citizens plan to watch Olympics this time. Not just that, 89 per cent of the audience plans to watch it on platforms like online (50 per cent), phones (24 per cent) and tablets (15 per cent). That’s much ahead of the global average of 23 per cent on new media. So what is driving this new media fascination of Indians for Olympics?

MG Parameswaran, Executive Director & CEO, Draftfcb + Ulka

Experts feel the reasons for this is manifold. First and the foremost is that the profile of audience watching Olympics is different.  M G Parmeswaram, CEO, Draftfcb+Ulka, explains, “Olympics in India is gaining traction from the higher socio economic groups unlike cricket. So it is not surprising that a large number of Indians are planning to watch Olympics on a digital device.”

Second reason experts feel is that the kind of interest people have in Olympics is still fleeting and it’s not appointment viewing. And so people prefer to watch it on website as per their convenience. The ability to pick and decide which event you want to watch and the convenience to watch it when you want should be big driver of users opting to watch Olympics online.

Shashank Srivastava, CMO, Maruti Suzuki India

Shashank Srivastava, CMO, Maruti Suzuki India says, “In cricket most of TV viewing is made keeping the Indian audiences in mind, but that is not the case with Olympics and so the time and schedules are odd and complex.” He further explains that Indian audience would not like to wake up at 3 am and watch a particular sport, and so it’s easier for them watch their favourite bit of the game as per their convenience on the internet, mobile phone and/or tablets.

Thus, Youtube, the online broadcaster of Olympics 2012 in India, has also devised the broadcasting content of the games in such a way to suit the convenience of the Indian consumer. The channel is broadcasting 10 high-definition live-streams of the London games and users can access that on their desktop, tablet, or mobile device free of cost. The catch-up content and highlights too are popular with consumers.

What’s in for marketers?
But marketers agree that the biggest reason of consumers preferring to watch Olympics on new media is also the coming of age of the digital and the mobile medium. And so what does that mean for brands and marketers?

Experts feel that this is one of the biggest signs for marketers that they can’t deny the power of the digital and mobile medium as a means of communication to consumers.

Surbhi C Murthy, Associate Vice President, Allied Media agrees, “These numbers are a wake-up call for marketers. It’s time for them to start relooking mobile and online as a key medium of communication. Mobile is going to be the future of communication and that’s what these numbers are telling.”

Nikhil Rungta, Country Marketing Head, Google India

Nikhil Rungta, Country Marketing Head, Google India

Nikhil Rungta, Country Marketing Head, Google India seems to be on the similar page as he says, “On demand content consumption is on the rise and advertisers are looking at ways to engage and capture this audience. Our experience with sports content on YouTube has been very successful with viewership increasing every year for IPL, French Open etc. In the last few years, we have developed rich media ads and various in-video forms of ad formats, which appeal to users and are non intrusive.”

Sample this: IPL has been streaming live on YouTube for three years and every year there is an increase in the viewership. This year the viewership grew by over 55 per cent. For IPL’s 2012 season many brands opted to associate with the online platform. However, Youtube is not monetising the Olympics initiative this time.

Are marketer’s listening?
While on one hand online and mobile medium has started catching the fancy of marketers for various marketing initiatives but as far as Olympics 2012 is concerned digital initiatives are very few.

Food and snacks major Britannia Industries has been the first one to spot this opportunity and it has launched 40-day (during the period of Olympics) initiative ‘Game for Health’ under its health brand NutriChoice. Under this initiative, the brand has launched multiple games related to health platform. The brand is attempting to leverage Olympics and athletes health connotation.

But still most of the brands associating with Olympics are choosing to stick with the traditional television media. Brands like Hero MotoCorp, Samsung, Tata DoCoMo, Airtel Digital, BMW, and Nivea are a few names, which have come on board either as sponsors with ESPN or as spot buyers.

Hopefully, next Olympics will see brands seeing where consumers are and following them on those mediums.


About the author / 

Abhinav Mohapatra

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