Interview: Spicy Pitch helped Cricbuzz grow into a premier cricket OTT platform: Pankaj Chhaparwal

Pankaj Chhaparwal,

Pankaj Chhaparwal, CEO, Cricbuzz, in a quick chat with Media Samosa puts the spotlight on Cricbuzz’s properties like Spicy Pitch and why this is the best time to foray into the original content game. 

India being a cricket-crazy country is no news and fans’ appetite for content about the sport knows no bounds. Developing on this insight further, Cricbuzz launched an original series, Spicy Pitch. Digging deep into the lives of Indian cricket stars, Spicy Pitch showcases cricketing superstars recounting their lives in their own words – Apni Kahaani, Apni Zubaani

This Cricbuzz Original Series features the players, along with their families and friends who talk about their early life and ascent to the top as a cricketer. The show humanizes celebrities that fans have admired from a distance and reveals different flavors of their lives by showing real and relatable stories from their past.

We caught up with Pankaj Chhaparwal, CEO, Cricbuzz to know more about the original series, promotion plans, changing dynamics of branded content and OTT space in India and more. 


What was the rationale behind launching Spicy Pitch? What’s the TG set and what need gap does it fill?

Cricket audiences are hungry for great cricket stories. With the success of our flagship match analysis show, Cricbuzz Live, we saw a great opportunity of expanding our programming. That’s when the idea of Spicy Pitch came up. The intent was to bring the story behind the cricketing superstars’ meteoric rise in a fashion with which regular cricket fan could easily relate to.

We have a very wide TG, keeping in mind Spicy Pitch is developed with the intention to have a wide appeal that wouldn’t be limited to only the deep cricket audiences.

The idea behind integrating it on the website and no other social media platforms?

Cricbuzz has over125 million MAUs across its platform, so the platform will always remain the platform of choice to run our content. However, to further ease the journey of content discovery for cricket-loving audiences, for Spicy Pitch, we have utilized social media platforms especially Instagram IGTV along with Facebook and YouTube. Also, we have collaborated with MX Player to distribute the episodes of Spicy Pitch.

How are you strategizing to promote the series? Media mix

A 360-degree marketing approach has been taken to promote the series. While we are actively using our social media channels to engage our audience with SpicyPitch content; we are also using premium OOH properties across tier 1 cities.

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The first two episodes are very well received by audience. The media has picked up a lot of interesting stories from within the show and highlighted them.

Also, both cricket fans and legends have taken a liking to the show.


Your views on the state of branded content space in India at present?

Keeping into account the changing and unique consumer preferences, the need to deliver personalized content for users is rapidly increasing and OTTs will be expected to have a wide variety of content. With technology has made access to content easy, great content will be critical to driving growth for OTT channels.

Vernacular content will play a very crucial role for OTTs. India is a combination of many markets. It will be interesting to observe how platforms and content creators will work to cater to each of these markets

Also, how are the dynamics of video consumption changing?

Video streaming is expected to be an INR 12,000 Cr. industry by 2023, and OTT platforms will see exponential growth. With consumers having control over their media consumption – with smart devices and personal choice on OTT channels – the focus would be primarily on content. Content delivery will be further smoothened with the arrival of 5G networks that will create newer use cases, enhance user experiences and create disruptions leading to newer business opportunities

Marketing will play a crucial role in content discovery and effectively reaching out to tier 2 and 3 geographies.

How do properties like ‘Spicy Pitch’ benefit a sports news publisher like Cricbuzz?

Shows like Cricbuzz Live and Spicy Pitch have paved the way for a news publisher like Cricbuzz to grow into a premier cricket OTT platform, which not only offers the best news experience but also offers the best entertainment experience to its users, greatly expanding their choice of content on Cricbuzz.

There is a lot more content under development which will offer a more wholesome experience to our users and enable us to develop a strong new business line. Lastly, such branded content greatly enhances the strength and visibility of brand Cricbuzz.




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