So what does a special Hollywood-oriented movie channel got to do with cricket? Very little, you may say, but in the cut-throat world of TV viewerships, innovative marketing has strange ways. HBO, part of Time Warner, is betting on the Indian Premier League (IPL) to build its viewers, aiming to ride piggy back on the overwhelming popularity of the tournament.
The channel has dubbed its campaign the Hollywood Premiere League (HPL) as it offers a 90-day spread of blockbusters and television premieres from April 1. It has already signed on nine sponsors, said to be riding on the innovative campaign.
Shruti Bajpai, country manager, HBO Asia, said, “HPL has a ‘Premiere’ with an ‘e’, you see? IPL is entertainment and we are also big in entertainment in the English language entertainment space. With all the hype around IPL, the rub off will happen.”
HBO is also aiming to catch viewers surfing in from IPL matches for 11 p.m. movies – just after the games end.
“In the cricket matches, it will be superstars taking the field; on HBO, it will be superstars taking the screen,” Bajpai reasons. HPL even as a radio ad that has a voice saying “Dravid” turning to “Brad Pitt”.
All HPL promotions are very IPL cricket-like – from the HPL logo in the form of a shield, to print ads carrying brief profiles of the film stars much like the on-screen profiles of cricketers’ performance that matches feature.
What if IPL does not happen now due to date and security issues? Unlikely, says Bajpai but thinks it hardly matters. “We still have a fantastic line-up of films, with 30-35 TV premieres of films and a big blockbusters’ line-up.”