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Star ushers in IPL's new era with a bang

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NEW DELHI: Star India is all set to reinvent the Vivo Indian Premier League (IPL) 2018 by increasing viewer-engagement levels. In a sign of things to come, the broadcaster’s press conference in Delhi today started with a conversation between social humanoid robot Sophia and former India cricketer Virender Sehwag and Harbhajan Singh.

In a bid to get closer to fans, Star India is using all its might to reach out to India’s vast regional audiences by tailoring coverage in six languages-Hindi, English, Bengali, Telugu, Kannada and Tamil. As a result, it is targetting 700 million fans across TV and digital. “We researched and found out that only 50 per cent of the potential fans consume IPL in Tamil Nadu because of the language barrier,” Star India MD Sanjay Gupta said.

The auctions on 27 January 2018 are eagerly awaited. For the first time, fans can vote for their favourite players on vivoiplelection.hotstar.com as part of the ‘Election se Selection’ campaign on the network. The campaign, according to Gupta, has received more than one lakh votes in less than 12 hours of its launch.

Gupta also confirmed that the TV and digital telecast will be in sync. “The feed on TV and digital will be aired live at the same time; there will be no five-minute delay,” Gupta confirmed to Indiantelevision.com. Additionally, for the first time ever, IPL will be streamed on Hotstar using virtual reality.

BCCI CEO Rahul Johri said, “Despite the scale of its success, the sky remains the limit for the VIVO IPL 2018. The IPL, as a brand, is [worth] over $4 billion.”

Star is actively seeking regional brands that cater to each of the six languages. “Star India is planning to multiply the number of brands compared to last season. The ad rates will be different for different channels based on their reach,” added Gupta.

The Kannada channel, which was to replace Channel V on the airwaves, has, however, not yet seen the light of day. When asked about the launch of Star Sports Kannada, Gupta declined to comment and added that it was still at the planning stage.

“Over its 10-year journey, the IPL has grown into the single biggest property by far on Indian television. And now that it is on the Star India network across both, television and digital, we are set to use the confluence of technology, consumer insight, and experience in cricket coverage, to broaden the outreach and experience even further,” Gupta concluded.

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