Tusharr Kumar
Guest Article

IPL and its impact on social media

Our guest author discusses how mobile devices have become central to the evolution of the league, shifting the focus from stadiums to living rooms.

The entertainment quotient in Indian cricket has grown ever since the Indian Premier League (IPL) debuted in 2008. It's been a journey to watch how the IPL ups its own ante each year and how fan engagement continues to reach new heights.

Today, social media has turned into the main hub for fan communities, extending the excitement from stadiums to living rooms through live streams. As each IPL season ramps up, millions of tech-savvy cricket fans gear up too. They're not just watching the matches; they're fully immersed, getting live updates, browsing, ordering snacks, shopping, and chatting in various languages right on their devices. It's a whole new way to experience cricket!

Check this out—a report by Glance revealed that a whopping 128 million people were hooked to their mobiles for live updates during the 2023 IPL season. And CNBC Storyboard18 says 73% of all IPL viewers caught the action digitally, with 30% tuning in from their phones. It cements how significant the second screen phenomenon is for cricket.

Team socials, an extension of the IPL experience

Social media is like an infinite virtual stadium where fans from all corners of the globe come together, sharing a unified passion for cricket. After all, cricket is a religion in India. Whether you're cheering from Mumbai, Melbourne, or Manchester, we're all rooting for our favorite teams and bonding over every six and wicket.

When it comes to their digital game, some teams are leagues ahead. Chennai Super Kings, Mumbai Indians, and Royal Challengers Bangalore are going above and beyond what is expected. Chennai leads the pack with a cool 39.6 million followers.

Mumbai Indians aren’t too far behind with 35.9 million, and Royal Challengers Bangalore has a solid 30.8 million fans cheering them. It's amazing to see fans rally around their teams, engaging with each other, exchanging trivia, celebrating wins, and even sharing the heartbreak of a loss.

Social first high-on-impact content

It's fascinating to see how pop culture has seamlessly woven itself into the fabric of the IPL, turning cricket matches into rich, culturally resonant events that capture the imagination far beyond the boundaries of the cricket field. Think about it: stadiums are buzzing, broadcasts are vibrant, and online platforms are ablaze with excitement.

Take Rajasthan Royals, for example, whose social media page is a fantastic mix of personal stories and team spirit all rolled in. You’ve got everything from the special bond between mentor and mentee—like with Yashasvi Jaiswal and Rohit Sharma—to the anthem ‘Halla Bol,’ which has become the team's war cry.

Music has entered the arena as content creation evolves, resulting in several catchy tunes and uplifting lyrics specially composed to become IPL OSTs. In fact, social media teams are diving into players’ daily lives, giving fans an inside look at how these athletes spend their time.

The approach seems to be working, at least for Rajasthan Royals and CSK’s leading engagement rates on Instagram. Even teams like CSK, RCB, and Sunrisers are seeing rapid follower growth. 

Cricketers turned social media stars

Social media cricket content has moved from typical game highlights to a reality show perspective. We at Only Much Louder, for instance, have set up a dedicated content studio to collaborate with Mumbai Indians for their social content this season, to deliver highly engaging storytelling from training and travels to capturing unseen moments between the players.

There’s also the #MIDaily series – a video diary of their day that’s available on the team’s website. It’s garnering millions of views which as of last month has 36.4 million and counting with an engagement of 2.2 million.

And cricketers themselves are becoming creators in their own right. Case in point, Shreyas Iyer’s recent collaboration with OPPO to tap into Gen Z’s love for selfies. Shubman Gill too had the spotlight on him with his partnership with Tinder.

Others like Ruturaj Gaikwad and Sai Sudharsan are top influencers getting on board with creative storytelling to further engage with their loyal fans and communities. This has led to stronger bonds between fans and their idols.

Other social media teams too are on the move with the players, capturing content and leveraging technology for quick edits and uploads. They’re primed and ready to capture moments and edit videos from start to finish on the fly.

Social media pages of cricketers have become a new distribution channel for brands that are traditionally advertised on TVCs. This whole shift can be attributed to the increasing followership of the players on social media. Ruturaj Gaikwad, Sai Sudharsan, KL Rahul, and Rishabh Pant are among the top influencers, boasting genuine followers with a GAP (genuine audience percentage) score above 80%.

Previously, social media content around the IPL primarily focused on batting and bowling highlights, game-based montages, and match statistics.

Eventually, the league evolved from traditional highlights to immersive off-field content reflecting a broader shift in content creation strategies. Looking ahead, the influence of the IPL on social media is only set to grow, further securing its place as one of the most pivotal sporting events globally.

(Our guest author is Tusharr Kumar, COO, Only Much Louder Entertainment)

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