ESPN – ICC

BACKGROUND

TV viewing services in India are currently provided mainly by three mediums – Analogue Cable Services, Digital Cable Services and Digital DTH Services. According to a bill passed by the Central Government, all cable TV operators will have to transmit TV signals in an encrypted format through a digital addressable system. This will be done through the installation of Set Top Boxes in every cable TV home. As per the Digitisation bill, Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata & Chennai were to be fully digitised by 31 October 2012 as part of Phase 1. And 38 cities, including Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Baroda in Gujarat were to be digitised by March 31 2013.

THE CHALLENGE

In order to expedite the digitization process and accelerate the ceding of the digital boxes, the multi-system operators (MSOs) in some markets of Gujarat resorted to switching off the ESS (ESPN Star Sports) channels in their consumer homes during the India – New Zealand cricket series. This move on the MSO’s part could damage ESS ratings in the major markets despite impressive content being aired. In addition, the ESS channels also anticipated this being repeated during the ICC World T20 Tournament, 2013.

The challenge essentially was -

• To inform the consumers of how they were being wrongfully deprived of content they are entitled to and at the same time being asked to cough up more than the normal asking price of the Digital Box.

• By doing so create pressure on the existing MSOs who were switching off the ESS channels, highlighting the top quality content available on ESS with specific reference to the ICC World T20.

THE SOLUTION

We charted a three-pronged communication strategy that worked towards the following:

Providing information: Our first task was to INFORM the consumer that the switching off of channels by the MSOs was illegal.

Highlighting deprivation: The second part of our communication strategy was to highlight the deprivation that the MSOs were causing to consumers. It was critical to highlight that the consumer would be missing out on the much-anticipated ICC T20 World cup which would be broadcasted on ESS channels.

Creating a call to Action: The final leg of our communication strategy was to enable our consumers to take action against any such move made on behalf of the MSOs. We suggested that the consumer demand the channels back from their cable operator or switch to alternate options such as DTH in case their cable operators fail to comply, so that they can continue to enjoy the content being aired on ESS currently.

Additionally, we tied up with our DTH partners – Videocon D2h to help us further propagate our message as well as educate the consumers about the superior services being provided by Videocon.

All states saw an almost immediate resumption of services, as partnering with Videocon D2h directly attacked the MSO’s business.