The Indian Premier League (IPL) is going all out to promote cricket both inside and outside of the nation's borders. This includes a ramped up campaign featuring its shorter format Twenty20 matches and, now, an historic deal to bring the matches to the masses... online.
Through a deal with Google and YouTube, the IPL will have a branded channel for streaming live matches. This is a sagacious collaboration for Google, and the IPL -- which needs some good news in the face of recent controversy about Pakistani players. Above all, however, this is an excellent arrangement for YouTube.
The IPL's live YouTube channel will be more than just a simple stream. It will include various camera positions, the ability to freeze or browse footage, chat rooms, live stats, and a collection of popular on-demand clips. Advertising and sponsorship revenue will be shared between IPL and Google. IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi summed up the advantages of the deal for both the IPL and its partners:
"Commercially it means we will be able to reach new audiences and shows why sponsors want to be associated with us. Individual sponsors will be able to cut their own footage to suit their own needs. The possibilities are endless."
Maybe even more important than the bells and whistles of the streaming capabilities is the extended global reach the partnership affords the IPL. Currently, the league has no broadcast feed in the United Kingdom, where the IPL is wildly popular. Commissioner Modi said of the potential for global branding:
"We are now taking our event truly global for the first time. Google gives us access to 500 million pairs of eyes every single moment of the day. There are a few countries where the feed will be near as live which means there will be a delay of only a few minutes, but most places will be able to see live streaming of the action."
In addition to the advantages for the IPL, the deal holds tremendous potential for YouTube, which has endured sluggish brand development. Just four years ago YouTube's future looked limitless. Then, a host of competitors, copyright concerns, and the realization that many viewers want something more professional than amateur-generated content, forced the brand into somewhat of a stall. YouTube needed "tent-pole" content to polish, and professionalize, the brand. It got it.
After failing on broadcast television, the drama The Beautiful Life has found initial success on YouTube. The online video service has also been cutting deals with broadcasters to air shows on-demand, such as the popular programs Hollyoaks, Skins, and Peep Show.
The IPL deal, however, would take YouTube to the next level as a broadcaster, giving it live programming with a huge, built-in, brand-loyal audience. Everything this deal can do for the IPL brand and its global reach it can do for YouTube and its own exposure. It's a win-win situation, except for whoever plays against Shahid Afridi.