There are just 12 days to go before this season’s Indian Premier League (IPL) begins and Star India, the official broadcaster of the tournament, has revealed that it will offer targeted ads to cricket fans for the first time.

Advertisers using its video streaming platform Hotstar will be able to target ads at viewers based on age, gender and demography and they also will have the ability to leverage multiple ad formats, including banner, carousel and video.

“This is the first time that we are offering targeted ads to brands. They can target custom cohorts and also deploy interest-based targeting,” said Varun Narang, Hotstar’s chief product officer, in comments to Livemint.

“In the Watch N’Play social feed of the game we have introduced branded cards, which advertisers can leverage to target relevant target group (TG),” he added, referring to the skills-based video game which allows users to play along with the match and share their experience with millions of others.

According to Narang, data from last year’s IPL suggests that those who engaged with the Watch N’Play feature spent three times more time on Hotstar than average viewers, Business Standard reported.

“Viewers will be able to invite their friends and family to watch the match together on Hotstar, play along on the Watch N’Play game and make their voices heard by chatting about the match or their Watch N’Play experience with not only their friends and family but also with experts and celebrities,” Narang said.

Hotstar reached 202 million viewers during last year’s tournament and it has set itself an ambitious target of 300 million for IPL 2019.

As well as banking on the popularity of Watch N’Play to hit that number, the streaming service also plans to introduce a new live commentary feature that allows viewers to engage with friends during a live match. In addition, a virtual reality game will be rolled out across several locations throughout India.

“There’s a lot of work that goes into scaling our service to be able to reach those number of users,” said Narang. “We have invested a lot on technology so that the service is smooth.”

Sourced from Livemint, Business Standard; additional content by WARC staff