NEW DELHI: With Star India, you can always expect the unexpected or something high-octane. In line with this philosophy, the broadcaster, along with its over-the-top (OTT) service Hotstar, is exploring the use of virtual reality, or VR, to heighten viewer experience during the 2018 season of the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Speaking at a session themed ‘10 Media Transformations for 2018 & Beyond’ at the CII Big Picture Summit 2017 here yesterday, Hotstar’s consumer and revenue head Prabh Singh gave a sneak peek into the innovations being planned around the IPL, which included the VR experience for viewers.
“Yes,” Singh said when asked by session moderator and NDTV consulting editor Vikram Chandra whether he had heard correctly that Star/Hotstar was mulling introducing VR headsets for viewers in IPL matches in 2018.
Apart from VR, Singh divulged that Hotstar had been experimenting with other innovations such as score overlays to give additional benefits to subscribers watching cricket matches on the streaming service so they could not only watch the video but also enjoy extra information to add to the overall viewing experience.
On the sidelines of the event, when asked by Indiantelevision.com how the VR experiment would play out, Singh mysteriously said: “wait and watch”. Pressed further on the issue whether VR headsets would be given to random spectators in stadiums or select subscribers of Hotstar, he added that the logistics were still being worked out, which included a possible tie-up with a VR (headset) company, too.
Will the VR experience be extended to all the IPL matches? Singh refused to comment on the question.
Star India, earlier in the year, had won the five-year global broadcast and digital rights to the IPL for $ 2.55 billion, a sum that has been described as from being `staggering’ to `over-priced’ to simply OTT.
In September, when asked how the company planned to monetise the IPL, Star India chairman and CEO Uday Shankar (now elevated as head of 21st Century Fox Asia) in an interview to Indiantelevision.com had said: “All I know is that IPL is a very powerful tournament and cricket runs really deep in everybody’s bones in this country. To be successful, you just need to work on intensifying and heightening the experience of cricket further.”