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Hotstar to provide dual language feed for IPL

MUMBAI: In line with the trend on television, Star India’s video streaming service Hotstar will have dual language feeds, English and Hindi, for the live streaming of the Indian Premier League (IPL) Season 9.

While the English feed will be the world feed provided by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the video-on-demand (VoD) platform will produce the Hindi feed. Star is finalising the commentary line-up for the Hindi feed of IPL season 9, which is set to take place from 10 April to 29 May.

To date, the VoD service only had English feeds in the previous editions.

This will be the second year of IPL streaming on Hotstar. In 2014, Star had made a deal with the then digital rights holder Times Internet to stream the IPL live on its online sports destination starsports.com.

“We are looking at English and Hindi feeds this year. We will be producing our own Hindi commentary while the English feed will be the world feed provided by the BCCI,” Hotstar president and head Ajit Mohan told TelevisionPost.com.

This is also the first year when the digital service will have full-fledged programming spanning pre- and post-match shows, highlights and an improved scorecard.

“We are going to have full programming around the IPL this year for the first time. We are going to have fully packaged pre- and post-shows. We are also going to have daily and weekly highlights. From a product point of view, we are going to make it a lot easier to check the live scorecard and watch high points of the game all in the context of the video streaming experience,” Mohan elaborated.

Mohan believes that Hotstar has built a habit of consuming sports online among its target audience, which is the affluent urban audience. The objective behind the full programming strategy is to have a complete offering that is better than television so that users start looking at Hotstar as their main screen.

“We have seen in the last 6–9 months that Hotstar is becoming a primary screen for urban India and we expect a lot of people to watch the IPL entirely on Hotstar. Therefore, it’s not enough to just offer the match itself; we need to offer a full programming proposition,” he stated.

HotStarAccording to Mohan, Hotstar is now 40–45% of television viewing in the top six cities. “For the most premium, urban and affluent audience, Hotstar is the main screen for watching sports, particularly cricket. Our effort has entrenched that further during the IPL. Whether it’s English or Hindi, we are reaching affluent urban audience,” he averred.

He also said that the IPL programming would centre completely on sports. It will have the sports DNA of Star Sports into it.

Mohan said that Hotstar has seen a 3x increase in watch time between 2014 and 2015. “The big change this time is that people have a habit of consuming on Hotstar the ICC World Cup World Cup, IPL, Asia Cup and India matches,” he said.

He also said that the viewership for primetime matches is more or less similar to the day match. “It is more or less equal, weekday or weekend, primetime or non-primetime. Even during primetime, people are watching the IPL on digital from home Wi-Fi. If you offer better experience, people will watch it online because mobile is also the primary screen,” he explained.

With the consumption of the IPL on digital growing, advertisers have also chipped in with the ad monies. Hotstar has roped in four sponsors and six large advertisers besides other spot buyers for the IPL this year. Flipkart, AXE (Hindustan Unilever), Volini (Sun Pharma) and Raymond are the main sponsors. Lloyd, Hindware, Hero Fincorp, Airtel and Amazon are other large advertisers on the platform.

Mohan said that a lot more advertisers have signed up for the IPL this year than last year. However, he remained tight-lipped about the ad revenue growth.

“There has been a huge surge in interest. Especially advertisers who have come on board for last few cricketing tournaments have found huge value. I don’t think any other digital platform is able to reach such a large number of people in such a short time,” he asserted.

Besides in-stream ads, Hotstar will offer brand integrations in programming and sponsor placements on the product. An ad campaign titled ‘Screen Chota Hai Par Dil Bada Hai’ is running on air to promote the IPL streaming on Hotstar.