Copy of 374245-01-02-1680329962484
After the FIFA World Cup in Doha late last year, audiences and advertisers in the UAE and wider Middle East set their sights on another sporting action - the IPL. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: The 2023 Indian Premier League has started to blaze away with boundaries, maximums and cheerleaders - and in the UAE, the action is getting to be just as intense.

This year, while none of the IPL T20 matches will be played in the UAE, cricket followers are being spoilt for choice as to where they should watch the matches.

The online marketplace noon fired off the first shots, by acquiring rights to beam the matches in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. This is the brand’s first major push into sports streaming, and according to a top official, there’s a good fit to be had with all the other activities the portal offers.

Read more

“People love streaming sports on-the-go - why not do it on an app with services such as food and 15-minute delivery, and millions of deals,” said Tanweer Anwar, Vice-President of Monetization at noon.

“During last year’s FIFA World Cup, we launched our first in-app game, Golazo. The reaction was incredible, driving crazy traffic to noon and generating buzz across our markets.

The IPL is a one-of-a-kind cricket brand that is loved and followed around the world. We expect to see tremendous user acquisition and engagement on noon.”

The matches will be available on the noon web platform and app for Dh29.

We’re excited to be able to give our fans high-quality, uninterrupted access to the Indian Premier League on their phones.

- Tanweer Anwar at noon

The evision blitz

Meanwhile, evision - part of e&’s entertainment platform e& life - has the broadcast rights for the IPL ’23, which will feature 70 league matches over 52 days. The final will be played May 28.

Cricket fans in the region can tune on to evision’s CricLife1 channel, available on eLife, Switch TV, and Starzplay.

According to Olivier Bramly, CEO of evision,“The acquisition of the rights for the Tata IPL 2023 is a significant milestone for e-Vision.” Through the acquisition, the plan is to reinforce CricLife’s position as the ‘Home of Cricket’ in the UAE and MENA.

Cricket broadcast rights on a pan-regional basis are turning out to be as competitive as those for the biggest football tournaments, whether that’s the FIFA World Cup, individual leagues, or club competitions.

noon’s entry into this space OTT space - and that too with digital broadcast rights for the IPL - comes across as quite a well-timed push to build up audience numbers - whether for shopping or sports. (Its biggest rival Amazon has the Prime streaming portal.) “We’re super-excited to be expanding our app’s capabilities to include interactive IPL streaming and advertising,” said Anwar.

On whether that means turning into a full-fledged OTT platform, he said: Right now, we’re completely focused on ensuring that our new IPL streaming experience is world-class and exciting for everyone who joins—including brands that can advertise and communicate directly with audiences via the stream during live matches.”

On adding Egypt - not exactly a huge cricket following nation - to the coverage area, Anwar said: “Cricket has recently found a foothold in Egypt, a market that is very important to us. We’re proud to support its rise in popularity through innovations like this.” (noon holds multi-year rights to the IPL.)

Copy of 373745-01-02-1680329964418
In recent years, IPL matches had been played in the UAE, but this year marks a return to having all of the tournament in India itself.

Scoring with advertisers

Whether held in India or the UAE, IPL has its legions of fans - and that means opportunities for advertisers here and across the region. “Last year’s FIFA World Cup in Doha has whetted the appetite of advertisers - and they are game for more opportunities around sporting events,” said a media manager. “The IPL ’23 represents a significant opportunity for UAE brands to have peak visibility.”

And with the likes of e& and noon serving it up, viewers in the UAE have got their eye in on the IPL - and with a choice of screens to follow the matches.