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ESPN in India is witnessing a tremendous growth in revenues through content marketing on its exclusive cricket news website ESPNCricinfo. The platform expects the contribution of content marketing to its revenue to go up from 45-50% to 70-80% by the end of 2019.

Gaurav Thakur

“From a very traditional advertising-driven platform, we have been able to get into brand integrations. In the last 12 months, we have been able to fetch deals with advertisers where content plays a huge role. We are now working much more closely with the advertisers, looking at their marketing briefs and custom-creating content that has really worked for them,” Gaurav Thakur, Director of Marketing and Business Development, ESPN, told BuzzInContent.com.

Share of voice, CPM and content integration are three revenue models for the platform.

“From the time we went big on content integration, it is contributing around 40-45% to the overall revenue right now. The way it is increasing, I wouldn’t be surprised if this contribution goes up to 70-80% in the next 12 months. Especially with IPL and World Cup coming up, a lot of content is being produced for more and more content integration,” added Thakur.

Any brand integration with content yields results when the content and sales teams work closely at the inception stage of an idea and ESPNCricinfo ensures a high level of coordination.

Sambit Bal

Sambit Bal, Editor-in-Chief of ESPNCricinfo, feels that the biggest win for an advertiser is a piece of content that is organically a part of the platform. “If you create content that is just for the advertiser and does not appeal to a visitor, then it is of no use. The worst thing for a content creator is creating content the audience doesn’t want but you are creating because someone is paying for it,” he said.

With the two major cricketing events, Indian Premier League and the World Cup Cricket, the platform is expecting about 50% growth in revenue over last year.

ESPNCricinfo saw double-digit growth in the top and bottom line in 2018. “It was a good year for us. If we look at the last two years, demonetisation followed by GST had hit most of the businesses, including advertising. It was a decent year for us. What we are really looking forward to is the next six months,” said Thakur.

Talking about how ESPNCricinfo is gearing up to cash in on these two major events, Bal said, “All the new ideas that we implemented in 2018 will strengthen our coverage in 2019. World Cup excites me because no other media organisation across the world has the depth and breadth of talent that we have simply because no media organisation employs writers in every part of the world. So the kind of stories that we can tell with the deep local flavour, nobody can do that. World Cup is the best stage for us where we can show off our storytelling strength.”

The platform that features news, articles, live coverage of cricket matches, and StatsGuru, a database of historical matches and players from the 18th century to the present, packages the content keeping the medium it is served on in mind.

Talking about the content strategy of the platform in 2018, Thakur said, “We had a very robust cross-platform strategy in place where we were looking at not just ensuring that the content is available on the platform but we were putting a lot of content across other platforms like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.”

Content@BuzzInContent.com