Debashish Chakraborty
Brands and Sports marketing

Fan sentiments revive with the return of high octane live sports

The news of IPL 2020 hosted abroad has already hyped up the Indian fans; guaranteeing entertainment and world-class cricket in these difficult times.

India is a sports fanatic country. A country where streets are isolated on a finale, citizens shed tears of joy over a crucial win and a sportsman is being bestowed with the deity status. These are only a few instances that distinctly showcase the unparalleled bond between the fans and the game. And it’s almost impossible to fathom a universe with a substitute. But lately, we have been living amidst the novel coronavirus pandemic; a test for time and patience which disrupted the flow of business and life, obligating the unifying force which is requisite in these unprecedented times.

History has it that every time a catastrophe has occurred, it only through the collective efforts of the people that the rehabilitation has been possible. And what’s a better way to bring people together rather than sports. Be it the 2018 Winter Olympic Games when athletes from war-separated North and South Korea marched together and even entered with a combined women’s hockey team. This move was later called “The most dramatic gesture of reconciliation between them in a decade.” by The New York Times.

Another similar instance is of South Africa’s first black president Nelson Mandela addressing a largely white South African audience at the 1995 Rugby World Cup. Mandela in 2000 said, “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where there was only despair.” These are only a few rare moments in the history of not just sports but mankind which highlights the unique power of togetherness.

Today, across the globe, times are different and difficult. Staying indoor has become a mandate and isolation has led to tension and anxiety, hence there is a need to be divergent and engaged. And in such times, the news of sporting events resuming and being broadcasted is nothing short of a relief. For sports enthusiasts In India, the live sporting event season has already kicked off with Bundesliga and Premier League, drawing high engagement numbers. But above these, what’s enigmatic is the the news of the return of one of the world’s biggest sporting extravaganzas IPL 2020 which has made the fans go berserk on the internet.

The fans on social media were quick to express their excitement and enthusiasm; many claiming this to be ‘the only good news of 2020’. From the end of MS Dhoni exile to RCB’s potential shot at this year’s title, Twitteratis weren’t shy in revealing their eagerness and support to their favourite player, team and the league. As the countdown begins, millions of fans across the globe are bracing up and waiting for the favourite players and team to hit the ground.

Fan sentiments revive with the return of high octane live sports

While on one side, sporting events woo fans, they are as much enthralling for the associated brands. In past, myriad brands have invaded the sports sponsorship space and marketers have been partnering with these events for a prolonged period, cashing in on the massive audience base and taking home an astounding ROI - all by leveraging smart innovations and customised activations. From traditional FMCG players to food delivery to online payments to emerging start-ups, sporting events qualify as the ideal arcade model in reaching out to the brand’s TG. Talking about event-specific campaigns, IPL has been known to be a highly conversational topic; hence, associated brands have been known to curate IPL-centric campaigns yielding them a once-in-a-year opportunity. Be it Dream11’s ‘Ye Game Hai Mahaan’ campaign or Swiggy and Zomato’s discount-driven innovations, which have resulted in not just maximised reach but also brand awareness and overall brand, leading to increased customer acquisitions or orders, in the latter’s case.

The COVID-led lockdown and now with partial unlocks, the fear of stepping outside and restricted movements has led one to understand the importance of sports. On the other hand, the sport too now realises the contribution of its fans. Additionally, with TV consumption reaching high levels due to people staying indoors, IPL could be and exciting and refreshing change for viewers across who might have overdosed on GEC , OTT and movie content , rest assured this Festive season will be of a different flavour and energy with IPL being held as a prelude to Diwali.

To conclude, while a game is represented by its players, it’s driven by its fans - the constant companion of a player, a team and the ecosystem. And as the world moves towards a new normal, and live sporting events kick-off, the void for excitement, entertainment seems to be fulfilled by this new ray of hope and joy. Because long after the roar in the stadium dies, iconic moments will always be imprinted in our memory, often a catalogued tale for generations to come.