The mid-summer months of March, April and May are something every cricket fan looks forward to. This is when the largest arena of T20 cricket unleashes itself – and fans go crazy with riveting debates, firebrand conversations, and everything that allows them to win a witty victory over other fans. This is also when ESPNcricinfo presents every avid cricket fan with all the arsenal they need to build a terrific case for their conversations.
Over its three decades of clear leadership in fueling fandom, ESPNcricinfo has stimulated, driven and led the way in fan-driven content and storytelling through sport. And this year, they take the benchmark a notch higher with a slew of innovative, interactive, and new-age content that fans have already loved in the first fortnight of the IPL ’22. As part of their unparalleled IPL coverage, ESPNcricinfo has created a wide and expansive repository of organic and brand-led content that includes many different views, perspectives and formats that appeal to the “fan of 2022”.
Leading this charge is ESPNcricinfo T20 Timeout – the engaging flagship pre-, mid- and post-match analysis live show that provides comprehensive insights, data-backed analysis, and robust opinions, where fans engage in active banter just as we see some of the best minds of the game give their honest opinion on the game. A panel that boasts of ex-India Head Coach Ravi Shastri, young, most-followed new-age cricketers like Sam Curran, Carlos Brathwaite and Chris Lynn, IPL veterans like Piyush Chawla, Imran Tahir and Daniel Vettori – it clearly engages with fans for a personal high.
As ace commentator and ex-India head coach Ravi Shastri puts it aptly, “This IPL so far has started off full of vitality and in constant anticipation. I’m looking forward to voicing my thoughts and opinions from ESPNcricinfo’s analyst and expert seat as each team and player cook trails of interesting performances for our observation.” Current English cricketer Sam Curran, who has made his debut on the digital platform seconds this, saying, “This season of IPL has begun with numerous close calls with matches that are being won by just a few runs, bringing the audience constantly on the edge of their seats. That’s the beauty of the game and what every fan awaits – the moments that has everyone in awe.”
India’s leading automobile brand Maruti Suzuki has continued its association with ESPNcricinfo as the presenting brand on T20 Timeout, with the dynamic objective to offer unique experiences and engage with cricket fans across the country, throughout the day as they consume match-related content and stories. The flagship association with ESPNcricinfo T20 Timeout is a great way to resonate with potential and current customers as they seamlessly integrate the Maruti Suzuki brand communication and help drive brand love.
Shashank Srivastava, Senior Executive Director – Sales & Marketing, Maruti Suzuki says, “We are thrilled to continue our long-term partnership with ESPNcricinfo and offering uninterrupted access to our Flagship Live show T20 Time-out. The insightful discussions and analysis of the various games and players, as well as exciting on-field and off-field moments has brought the show close to the hearts of many fans. AskCricinfo has been a perfect one-stop platform for all cricket related knowledge accessible in the most convenient and user-friendly way. As the new season of IPL kickstarts, we look forward for the fans to make the most of AskCricinfo and T20 Time-out for a more engaging cricket experience.”
New-age smartphone brand iQOO has also collaborated for a series of content-driven associations, powered by sponsorship on T20 Timeout and other exciting video initiatives. Fan engagement remains at the communicative core of this young brand, as we see from initiatives like the iQOO ESPNcricinfo Biggest Fan Challenge – a one-of-a-kind opportunity for fans to become an active part of the coverage and interact with leading experts from the ESPNcricinfo panel.
iQOO India CEO Nipun Marya supports this thought by adding, “ Through this distinctive partnership with ESPNcricinfo, we are reaching out to millions of Gen Z and millennial cricket fans who love performance centric and youthful content, similar to what iQOO offers to its consumers. Our collaborative programming goes beyond the usual and also presents the spontaneous, lighter side of cricket that Gen Z fans look forward to.”
What makes ESPNcricinfo unique in its coverage is also the continued effort it makes to lead the constant content evolution. As the way fans consume content changes – traditional long-format has made way for short and ultra-short videos that are relished with gusto and vertical, social-driven content has emerged as a clear backdrop for topical fan conversation – the platform has also ensured that each content strand is designed to resonate with fans that are constantly evolving.
A case in point is the Swiggy Instamart Fast Funde series of reels presented by hugely popular hosts such as Aparshakti Khurana, Cyrus Broacha and Jatin Sapru that pick interesting factoids and present them in a manner that young cricket fans would love to actively consume and interact with.
Another enthralling step in this fan-led evolution is the bespoke, modern content series titled “Maruti Suzuki presents ASKcricinfo Top 5”. This data-driven weekly proposition is truly a step in the right direction, as it leverages ESPNcricinfo’s NLP-based unique search tool – ASKcricinfo – to churn out interesting user searches through the week, which are then discussed in a crisp, contemporary video conversation with experts. Similarly, the ESPNcricinfo CriciQOO Social Edition is a one-of-a-kind immersive experience for fans to test their cricket quotient through a custom Chatbot-led activity panning out across the duration of the IPL.
Robust and continued exposure for brands is driven by topical shows such as iQOO Z6 Pro 5G Fully Loaded Performer, Nippon Paint Star Performer, Center Fresh Mints Clean Breath Confident Player, and Simplilearn Job Guarantee Expert Tips, among others.
Leveraging its growth in higher traffic and viewership, ESPNcricinfo has garnered several new sponsorships from some of the leading brands including Simplilearn, Toyota, One Plus, Apple, Swiggy Instamart, Nippon Paint, Watcho, Dominos, Sensodyne, Center Fresh, Kerala Tourism, Airtel, Fujitsu, and WonderWins.
ESPNcricinfo’s South Asia Sales Head Akshaya Kolhe validates this distinctive approach, as he says “ESPNcricinfo’s commitment to go beyond the usual coverage is a testimony to our motto of serving our fans anywhere, anytime. We are observing a striking surge in demand for new-age, crisper and smarter video content that is constantly consumed and shared by fans, and with that in mind, we are creating more opportunities to develop such content for brands that think alike, and that excites our fans, making them want more.”
The series of content partnerships is each uniquely different in its presentation and visual appeal, yet all follow the central strand of being collaborative and fan centric. With such diverse and comprehensive content engaging, informing, and entertaining the audience 24×7, this is truly the benchmark for all-round game around the game coverage for IPL fans. The stellar coverage of IPL 2022 and the numerous successful brand integrations being carried out have truly earmarked ESPNcricinfo as one of the prime preferences of marketers and brands.