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With IPL, World T20 lined up, Star Sports eyes untapped markets

With rights for 140-150 days of cricket broadcasting this year, including Indian Premier League (IPL), Star Sports is making a big push to woo more viewers across segments and penetrate untapped markets.

Sanjog Gupta, head, sports, Star India, said: “Over the past six months, we have added an incremental 10 per cent subscribers to the Star Sports portfolio, primarily driven by the marquee IPL tournament.”

He said the overall penetration of IPL last year was 80 per cent, which means eight of every 10 pay TV homes subscribed to IPL 2020, and were watching it on a Star Sports channel. The aim is further to increase this number.

To do so, Gupta said, Star Sports has a long list of cricket broadcasting rights — for 140-150 days this year both on Star Sports and Hotstar Disney. Apart from the India-England series, which is on, the line-up likely includes the Asia Cup, World T20, and India’s tour to South Africa.

Star Sports is also looking at starting two-three more regional feeds to boost its IPL’s penetration in various regions. Apart from English and Hindi, currently, it has feeds in Tamil, Kannada, and Bengali. Gupta confirmed that a decision on additional feeds would be taken within a week.

He also pointed out the regionalisation of sports had been a major contributor to the success of IPL; as a result, the penetration of Star Sports Tamil is 90 per cent, followed by Telugu, which is close to 80 per cent.

It is also looking at technology innovation and is finalising plans to offer an augmented reality visual experience to create a niche audience. Augmented reality has an advantage over virtual reality, where a special headset is required to experience it, Gupta said.

Star Sports has been buoyed by a substantial increase in the consumption of IPL last year, although it was held in the UAE, started in September and had stadia with no audience.

Its IPL viewership went up 23 per cent over the previous year to hit a record 400.5 billion minutes. While the kids’ segment (2-14 years) showed an increase in consumption, that of women (above 15 years) grew 24 per cent —faster than the consumption of IPL by men (above 15 years), which grew by 23 per cent.

Advertisers on board for the upcoming edition include Byju’s, ITC, Just Dial, MRF, Maruti Suzuki, and Association of Mutual Funds in India (AMFI), besides the new entrants Asian Paints, Parle, and Kamla Pasand.

Last year, despite being pushed to the tournament was pushed back to September-November due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Star Sports was able to garner 110 sponsors last year.

According to industry estimates, Disney-Star generated advertising revenue of over Rs 2,700 crore last year through Star Sports and the OTT channel, Hotstar. Revenues are expected to hit over Rs 3,200 crore this time.

The decision of the BCCI to continue to keep spectators away from the field could be reviewed later. Also, the number of venues where matches will be played has been restricted to only six cities. This has been done for two reasons: To ensure that no team plays any game in its home city, to neutralise any advantage it might have there, and to reduce the amount of travel the team has to do. For instance, all the playoffs in the IPL will be held in Ahmedabad, and all the matches between April 9 and 25 April will be held in Chennai and Mumbai. Business Standard

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