It is often said that the biggest religion in India is the game of cricket. And the reverence comes out in full force during the Cricket World Cup. The World Cup buzz usually picks up days before the event starts and reaches its peak closer to the event.
While television remains the most popular medium for consumers to catch up on all the cricketing action and for marketers to engage them, this World Cup saw an interesting trend that will definitely come as a surprise for many.
Sports apps for smartphones such as Cricbuzz, ESPNcricinfo, Yahoo Cricket saw a tremendous surge in demand during the World Cup 2015. In fact, according to an Informate Mobile Intelligence study, the numbers of smartphone users accessing sports apps (reach) in India was as high as 6% on February 9, 2015, just days before the event kicked off. Users spent as much as 14 minutes on sports apps on this day.
However, on the day of the first World Cup match on February 14, the reach for sports apps doubled, going upto 12%, with users spending over 16 minutes on that day accessing these apps. On February 15, when India played against Pakistan, sports app reach shot up to 17% with users spending an astounding 30 minutes accessing these apps on that day. Cricbuzz was the most used sports app on this day, followed by apps such as Star Sports Cricket World Cup, ESPNcricinfo Cricket, Yahoo Cricket and NDTV Cricket.
It was the India-Bangladesh quarter-final match which truly showed how consumers in India are increasingly turning to mobile for all the cricket updates. App reach on this day was at 18% and app usage crossed an astonishing 34 minutes.
While there has been a steady increase in sports app consumption on mobile, what comes as a shock was the fact that most of India's matches happened on a weekend, where consumers had easy access to television and other media, yet sports apps on mobile saw a strong demand.
There is always a stronger sense of emotion attached to India-Pakistan matches and people wait with bated breath to see how these matches turn out. This also reflected in app usage which peaked during the India-Pakistan match which was on a Sunday.
Clearly, with growing smartphone penetration and mobile internet connectivity, more people today are accessing sports apps on smartphones. While traditional media such as television continue to enjoy popularity among consumers, the fact that mobile is gaining fast traction is something marketers cannot ignore anymore.
Many content providers have also taken notice of this and those such as Cricbuzz heavily promoted their mobile apps during the World Cup. On the other hand, various industry estimates suggested that this World Cup could see as much as USD 250 million in overall ad spends while advertising spends on IPL are pegged at USD 167 million. The growing popularity of sports apps on smartphones demands that marketers rethink their marketing strategies and earmark a bigger piece of their ad spends pie for mobile.
Otherwise, they would find themselves on a sticky wicket, for today it is mobile where their audience is also going, and it will indeed be mobile that will drive greater returns for them in the coming days.