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Vodafone Sports: Changing the sports viewing landscape

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MUMBAI: What do you get when one of the leading telecom players in the country joins forces with one of the biggest television network? The result is uninterrupted, curated and the best delivery of sports content on the go.

The partnership between Star India and Vodafone India will make available to consumers a first-of-its-kind service that brings the best on track, on court and on field action to feature phones as well as smart phones.

Star India COO Sanjay Gupta says: “Sports is something the network truly believes in, and we have put our money where our mouth is time and again.”

Vodafone Sports powered by starsports.com will offer customers premium live and curated in-depth content built around some of the most popular sports in India such as cricket, football, tennis, hockey, golf and motorsport. The portal  (live.vodafone.in/sports) will feature cricket, football and hockey and will cover other major sports like F1, tennis, etc.

Star India head digital Ajit Mohan says: “Since the launch of starsports.com in June 2013, we have witnessed good traction among sports fans and have become the YouTube of sports in India.”

Launched in June 2013, starsports.com has become the go-to destination for following the best of international sports. It has in a way redefined the sports experience through a revolutionary video timeline that is a first of its kind in the world of sports, and allows the viewer to keep track of live sports as well as catch up on games with ease.

The company has also built an advanced technology infrastructure that enables HD quality streaming across multiple devices. It will now bring the power of the proposition to the most important screen in the country - the mobile, for Vodafone consumers.

“The fact that the content available on Vodafone Sports will be generated from starsports.com works well for the network as we will be able to reach the homes where TV sets and internet facility is not easily accessible,” Mohan explains.

Recent studies have shown that there are more mobile handsets in the country than TV sets in homes. With this strategic partnership with Vodafone, Star India has certainly played an ace card. It would now be able to propagate its message of supporting the growth of sports in the nation even better; reaching out to the millions of Vodafone subscribers and delivering live as well as curated content at an economical price.

 “Our core business has always been services and after the success of Vodafone Music, we were looking at taking things to a whole new level,” expounds Vodafone CCO Vivek Mathur on the reason for partnering with Star India.

“India in many ways is in the forefront as far as mobile internet consumption is concerned. We are only second to Germany and we truly believe that mobile internet is the future. We were on the lookout for a partner with some terrific content to deliver and we are glad to have found that partner in Star India,” Mathur adds.

As a result of the tie-up with Star, customers using Vodafone Sports will have access to an exhaustive array of legal, unadulterated content at their fingertips, including all the latest news, trivia, scores and results, instant access to live matches, interactive video scorecards, exclusive insight and analysis, columns, photos and wallpapers across sports.

The interactive video scorecard, for example, will allow users to watch the fall of a wicket or replay individual innings highlights for a particular player right from the scorecard, so if you miss a pivotal, game-changing moment in a game, or a match-winning knock, you can replay it at the touch of a button. Apart from live games, customers will also be able to sample additional archived video content, such as the best of M.S. Dhoni’s sixes or Sachin’s straight drives, created from over 10,000 hours of cricket footage.

Gupta says: “Our aim is to change the way sports is perceived in the country. We need to change the mindset of people who feel that sports is a waste of time and resource and will not benefit in anyway. We continue to stay committed to building all sports and the best way to encourage young adults to play sports is to increase the consumption of sports.”

The service will be available exclusively to Vodafone consumers in attractive packages. The ‘Snack Pricing Plan’ will allow consumers to watch a single match for a minimal price of Rs 10 or 20; a curated video clip for Rs 3 or Rs 5 and also give them an opportunity to download wallpapers at as low a price of Rs 3.

The ‘All You Can Eat Plan’ will give the consumer a chance to sign up to enjoy watching a series and the price ranges between Rs 49, Rs 99 and Rs 150. This plan also allows the subscriber to enjoy archival videos of some of the best shots or sixes by a cricketer for Rs 30 or Rs 50 depending on the length of the clips.

And there is also an option to subscribe on a day-to-day and monthly basis at Rs 5 and Rs 150 respectively. Mathur says: “We want to encourage our customers to consume as much of sport as they wish to and thus we have tried to keep the prices very reasonable.”

This is certainly a giant step taken by the Star network in continuing to deliver on its promise of delivering the best in sports, but does it also plan to get its other properties on the digital platform in a big way?. Gupta clarifies: “We do have plans of taking a lot of our other properties on the digital platform in the near future, but currently we are focusing on sports as we as a network truly believe it has struck a chord with the youth of the nation and we will continue to deliver on our promise.”

The road ahead certainly looks very rosy for Indian sports fans and Star Sports as a network is certainly making a statement with such bold moves. Guess it’s time for other broadcasters to wake up and smell the coffee.

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