Television

Star India lines up innovation filled IPL 2018

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MUMBAI: With the biggest cricketing tournament of the country waiting to commence over the weekend, Star India is lining up a list of new technological additions to make the experience an unforgettable one for viewers as they will witness the action on a new channel after a decade.

7 April 2018 will see the commencement of Star’s hot new property – Indian Premier League (IPL) season 11 with a set of gee-whiz innovations. It will be a litmus test for Star India which just also snatched away the media rights of BCCI’s home matches from under the nose of deep-pocketed rivals.

For a tournament that has always generated high ratings, Star will look to milk this opportunity but the challenges are aplenty for every endeavour runs the risk of being compared to its predecessor Sony Entertainment Television which has created benchmark after benchmark for the tournament. So while a whole new IPL-watching experience is upon us, Star's plans will go a long way in not just taking the legacy forward but also create one of its own.

Star is initiating a feature called #SelectDugout which will provide analysis, interesting data, expert opinion and in-depth content throughout the season. There’s also the Star India Re.Imagine Creative Awards that will award two best advertisers who will come out with the most innovative campaigns on TV (Star Sports) and digital (Hotstar).

The broadcast network  has decided to share the feeds of select games with a one hour delay with pubcaster Doordarshan. The aim is simple – it wants more viewers and especially the part of India that is untouched by private channels. Speaking to Indiantelevision.com 21st Century Fox Asia president Uday Shankar said, “It’s good for IPL that new audiences (not subscribing to pay TV) will get to sample it.”

Till now, the regional viewers were shielded from the IPL since it was only available in Hindi and English. This year, Star is planning to telecast it in six different languages - English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali and Kannada. One of the important data points that triggered the change was that it was losing out on 50 per cent of potential viewership from Tamil Nadu because of the language barrier. Though Star was unable to get a full-fledged Kannada channel up and running in time, it has ensured that viewers don’t miss out on the action. It will broadcast the games on Star Suvarna Plus, the Kannada GEC.

Along with dedicated language feeds, the network will also have a Super Fan Feed available across cable, DTH and Hotstar. This will be a curated feed for intense fans who want more than just to watch the game. It includes features like data layers about the teams and players during the telecast and multiple camera angle options while viewing. The Super Fan feed is also a monetisation avenue for Star on its video streaming platform Hotstar.

Star India aims to reach 700 million viewers on TV and digital with IPL 2018 and hopes to get a significantly higher number of advertisers for the tournament. The network also has the advantage of multiple channels and now new language feeds as well a big following via digital on Hotstar. While he refused to divulge details on advertisers and sponsors for the IPL this year, Star India COO Sanjay Gupta was confident that with a six-month-long period of IPL and related content broadcast and technological innovations, more brands than the current 60-70 that advertise on the league will be attracted to the tournament. Star was upping the IPL fever since months before the league was set to begin.

In 2017, the IPL was seen by 410 million people on TV and another 130 million tuned in on digital (Hotstar).

This IPL season will be one of the first few leagues in the world, which proposes to use virtual reality (VR) and to bring live action from the stadium to fan homes. Star says that this immersive VR experience would make it possible for fans to come closer to the high-octane matches from the comfort of their homes.

The IPL is sure to be a game-changer for Star India It is pulling out all stops to give viewers a sticky experience. That should help it in some way to monetise the big bet it has paid for the media rights even better.

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