Benita Chacko

Prime Video to feature ads for the first time with India-NZ series

While it offers a premium audience to advertisers, it has decided to offer only a limited inventory. 

The upcoming Indian men’s cricket team’s tour of New Zealand, beginning November 18, will be the first property on Prime Video to feature advertisements. It offers a rare opportunity for advertisers, as they get access to paid subscribers in a massy event like cricket. The series is expected to attract a wide audience. And since these will be paid subscribers, they are a more premium audience. 

However, the streaming service has decided to offer a very limited inventory for brands. It has just two sponsorship tiers - presenting sponsor and associate sponsor. The presenting sponsors will see deeper integration across the series and will have higher visibility throughout the series.

It has onboarded Airtel Xstream Fiber as its presenting sponsor, and MPL, Nescafé, Noise, OLX Autos and Vida as its associate sponsors. Certain premium brands, like AMFI and DBS, will also be advertising.

Prime Video to feature ads for the first time with India-NZ series

“Over the last 10-15 years, the match-viewing experience has been diminished by the intrusion of abundant commercial messages. We’re going to present a live experience, with a limited number of ads and commercial messages,” says Chaitanya Divan, head of sports, Prime Video, India.

Divan says that the advertisers are also in favour of this, as they get to reach out to a premium audience in a low clutter environment. 

“The intention is not short-term revenue maximisation. Our number one priority is to deliver the best possible experience to both the customers and advertisers,” he adds. 

The video ads will feature during overs and other breaks. Adverts will also feature as a part of the match-programming in the pre, mid and post-match shows.

Holding the official India territory rights to exclusively stream all men’s and women’s cricket matches played in New Zealand, the platform has streamed several series through the year, including the India women’s tour. However, this is the first major tournament for Indian fans. The series is expected to be widely watched, as it will be exclusively streaming on the platform. 

Prime Video to feature ads for the first time with India-NZ series

“Prime Video is streamed across 99% of pin codes in the country. It is accessible and relevant. So, when we have live cricket on the service, we are confident that it will be widely consumed,” mentions Sushant Sreeram, director - SVOD business, Prime Video, India.

On November 7, the streaming platform launched a mobile edition at ₹599 per year. The move will further increase the accessibility of the platform and widen its audience base. 

“We are a mobile-first country. Live cricket is not something that can be watched later, when one reaches back home. It needs to be watched immediately. So, mobile phones become a crucial viewing device. Though not timed for this tour, the mobile edition makes access to high-quality cinematic value content easy and within the reach of more people. It really democratises access to premium content,” adds Sreeram. 

Prime Video to feature ads for the first time with India-NZ series

The platform will also offer pre, mid and post match shows, which will be conducted at the match venue and not in a studio, to take the fans closer to the action. There will be an English language live one-hour pre-show before each game. The mid-innings break will feature a 15-minute show which will be a recap of the first innings and preview of the second. The live programming also involves a 30-minute post-match presentation and analysis by Prime Video’s stable of cricket experts.

Prime Video is also in talks with Prasar Bharati to broadcast to free-to-air consumers. “That's only for the DD Free Dish audiences,” says Divan.

The live commentary and match-programming will be delivered in five languages - English, Hindi, Tamil, Kannada and Telugu. Even the graphics will be customised in these languages. It is equipped with an in-game language selector, by which viewers can change the playback language seamlessly without exiting the player. 

“It is a first for us. With this, viewers can switch between languages without missing a single moment in the live match. The interactivity within the video player will enhance their experience. We are extremely focused on localising our offering for Indian fans,” he says.

Customers joining live stream in the middle of the match will be able to quickly catch up on the match played so far using the “Rapid Recap” feature before jumping to the live stream automatically.

India and New Zealand will play a limited overs series featuring three T20s and 3 ODIs that will be played between November 18 and November 30.

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