IPL, a big hit on social media

Social media has played an integral part in the IPL’s growth over the past 10 years and one can expect its role to grow in the coming years.

Fans enjoying an IPL game in Hyderabad. “Social media enhances the joy of live sport. It makes the audience more connected to the game and the community of spectators,” says Gaurav Kapur, one of the faces of IPL and a leading broadcaster.   -  V. V. Subrahmanyam

The Indian Premier League is in its 10th season this year, and it has been a rollercoaster ride for cricket’s biggest league ever since its inception in 2008. The tournament has been embroiled in controversies, but it still manages to attract a lot of eyeballs. The league is a hit not only on ground, where it is usually played in front of full stands, but also on the social media, which has played a pivotal role in its growth.

“IPL is the number one sports and entertainment property in the country; last year there were about 10.6 million tweets during the course of the season. So you can imagine the volume of conversation it generates,” says Aneesh Madani, head of Sports Partnerships for India and South East Asia at Twitter.

 

Even on Facebook, IPL has been one of the most talked about tournament. “Year after year, we have found that more and more number of people are logging in. IPL 2016 saw a lot of traction on Facebook reflected in over 30 million people generating 360 million Facebook conversations. This was higher than 29 million people globally generating 312 million interactions during IPL 2015. We are positive that IPL 2017 will be even bigger in terms of engagement,” says Asha Thacker, Sports Partnerships, Facebook India.

Gaurav Kapur, one of the faces of IPL and a leading broadcaster, speaking on social media’s relation with the IPL, said, “Social media enhances the joy of live sport. It makes the audience more connected to the game and the community of spectators.”

In the last four years, IPL and the teams involved have seen a growth rate of about 400% in terms of followers on Twitter. It has allowed them to build a solid base with their loyal fans.

Another interesting aspect has been the range of activities which Twitter and Facebook have come up with regard to the IPL. These activities allow the user to have an immersive experience. For Facebook, it’s been the use of Facebook live. This was already reflected at the IPL auction, where seven teams went live from the auction venue in Bengaluru. Mumbai Indians owners Nita and Akash Ambani and coach Mahela Jayawardene, and Kolkata Knight Riders CEO Venky Mysore, coach Simon Katich and analyst A. R. Srikkanth gave the fans unprecedented insight into the decision of the team management. “Fans will be able to get closer to their favourite players and teams than ever before thanks to Facebook live,” adds Thacker.

 

Some of Twitter’s activities over the years have included Hashflags, where the team’s flag appeared after the text. Another is the Twitter Mirror, where a signature-enabled Twitter mirror helped the fans to have access to candid customised photos from players and the members of the winning team. Even the Spidercam has its own Twitter account, bringing in exclusive real time photos.

The players too have used social media to build a fan base for themselves. Dale Steyn, for example, had a ‘ticket hunt’ on Twitter, where he left match tickets for his fans, and gave them a list of clues to reach the tickets. IPL’s newest recruits, the likes of Ben Stokes, Mohammed Nabi and Rashid Khan used Facebook live to connect with the fans.

Social media has played an integral part in the IPL’s growth over the past 10 years and one can expect its role to grow in the coming years!