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IPL to bail out the broadcast industry!

Ever since COVID-19 reared its ugly head, there has been a general sense of despair. Country after country fell into economic disruption, as each battled the pandemic. The broadcast industry, like many others, reprioritized spend and focused on their cash position. The significant reduction in CapEx investment, with a portion of that moving to OpEx investments is expected to continue till mid-2021.

IPL 20, being held in UAE from Sept 19-November 10 is poised to be a savior in more ways than one. Star India is the official broadcaster and over 500 million fans in 120 countries are being able to view their favorite sport, cricket, while it spans over the festive season. As the Indian media conglomerate, in the absence of the Chinese brands, inches toward its revenue target of ₹3000 crore, Disney+ Hotstar its online video streaming platform looks to overtake its FY19 subscription revenue of ₹466.64 crore and advertising revenue of ₹622.75 crore, and Jio and Airtel offer exciting prepaid recharge plans; the broadcasting industry is being put to test.

The IPL broadcaster had perfected remote production since the June 2018 VIVO IPL series, when it partnered with NEP and Tata Communications and centralized many of its core operations and managed them remotely from its production hub in Mumbai. Emboldened by its recent experiment in an exhibition match at Centurion Park in South Africa, when the commentators were based in Baroda, Kolkata and Mumbai, virtual commentary has been introduced this year. These anchors, armed with a minimum internet speed of 20 Mbps, at times have access to 25 camera angles. The technical production team are also pursuing remote attendee feedback with fans cheering in the background.

As the broadcast industry transitions, in current circumstances, to a remote workforce, CapEx is rebalanced to include new expenditures. In many cases, streaming products and remote desktop software are being utilized to keep traditional infrastructure up and running. Even prior to the current crisis, the industry was experiencing a shift toward remote production workflows that leverage SDI infrastructures in tandem with IP and streaming technology, and we can expect to see this trend continue throughout the end of the year and into 2021.

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