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Star eyes regional sports channels in more languages

MUMBAI: Star India is planning to launch regional sports channels in at least three to four languages including Telugu, Malayalam, Bengali, and Marathi, said a Star India official.

Of the four languages, the broadcaster has made some progress in Telugu, Malayalam, and Bengali. The Marathi sports channel is also under consideration.

Star intends to launch sports channel in one more language by the end of the year. It plans to launch sports channels in a couple of more languages ideally before the Indian Premier League (IPL).

In September, Star had acquired global IPL media rights for a whopping Rs 16,347.5 crore for a period of five years till 2022. It had beaten competition from Sony Pictures Networks India and Facebook to acquire the rights.

Star is betting heavily on sports broadcast business in which it has invested heavily. The broadcaster is eyeing break-even from the sports business in FY18.

The broadcaster currently has sports channels in Hindi and Tamil named Star Sports 1 Hindi and Star Sports 1 Tamil. Star Sports 1 Hindi also has a high definition (HD) version. It has another Hindi sports channel called Star Sports First however that is only for the free to air (FTA) market.

As reported by TelevisionPost.com, Star is launching Star Sports 1 Kannada on 16 November. It will replace music channel, Channel V, which is being discontinued, with Star Sports 1 Kannada.

“We are planning to launch Star Sports in other regional languages like Telugu, Malayalam, and Bengali. We are also a sports channel in Marathi. Our regional sports strategy has been very successful,” the Star India official stated.

Star has been a champion of offering sports content in the regional language since it will help in the growth of sports consumption in the country.

The regional sports channels will also air local sporting events apart from India cricket and local leagues like Pro Kabaddi, Indian Super League (ISL), and Premier Badminton League. Star Sports 1 Tamil also airs Tamil Nadu Premier League. Similarly, Star Sports 1 Kannada will also air Karnataka Premier League. The idea is to build a strong connection with the native people by airing local events.

In terms of ad sales, the English, Hindi and regional channels are sold in aggregated form to derive maximum revenue from a growth in reach and viewership. However, in markets like Tamil Nadu which have strong retail advertisers, the broadcaster also sells spots only for that specific regional channel.

For international events like F1, Tennis, and EPL, Star has created dedicated channels namely Star Sports 1 and 2 in SD and HD.

Altogether, the company owns and operates Star Sports 1, Star Sports 2, Star Sports 1 Hindi, Star Sports 1 Tamil, Star Sports Select 1, Star Sports Select 2, Star Sports HD1, Star Sports HD2, Star Sports 1 Hindi HD, Star Sports Select HD 1, Star Sports Select HD 2, and Star Sports First. The launch of Star Sports 1 Kannada will take the number to 13.

Star India has global media rights for Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) Domestic and International Cricket Series matches in India through 31 March 2018, the International Cricket Council global rights through the season-ending 2023, Asian Cricket Council global rights through the season-ending 2023, the England and Wales Cricket Board matches through the season-ending 2017, English Premier League soccer through 2019, French Open tennis through 2021, Federation Internationale De Hockey through 2022, Wimbledon through 2019 and Bundesliga through 2020.

Recently, it had lost the media rights of Cricket Australia to Sony Pictures Networks India till 2023.