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Star India to take StarSports.com a notch higher during IPL

MUMBAI: Star India’s digital sports destination will get a huge leg up in visibility as the broadcaster has decided to promote StarSports.com as the official on-ground sponsor during the seventh season of the Indian Premier League (IPL).

Star, which has a three-year sponsorship deal with the IPL worth Rs 100 crore (Rs 1 billion), had used the IPL platform to promote its flagship Hindi general entertainment channel (GEC) Star Plus last year.

It must be noted that Star India had partnered Times Internet Ltd (TIL) to stream IPL matches on StarSports.com.

The broadcaster will synergise IPL sponsorship to encourage cricket fans to watch the IPL online on StarSports.com. By streaming the cricket league on StarSports.com, Star has signalled its bigger intentions for the cash-rich property much to the dislike of official IPL broadcaster Multi Screen Media (MSM).

“The message this season will be that people can watch the IPL online on StarSports.com,” Star India COO Sanjay Gupta said.

Star India is running a campaign across its channels and on other networks also telling sports fans to watch the IPL online on StarSports.com.

Asked if Star is trying to ambush MSM by streaming the IPL on StarSports.com, Gupta said that the digital coverage will complement the television coverage.

“Given a choice, people would rather watch the matches on television if they are at home. The digital platform is used when they are out of the home. The television and digital mediums will complement each other during the IPL,” he states.

Gupta also says that the on-ground sponsorship gives an opportunity for content integration. “Last time we did the ‘Star Plus Nayi Soch Awards’. This time we are figuring out how to take things forward.”

He adds that there are no plans on the part of Star to do a sponsorship deal with any of the franchises. “We are happy with the investment that we have made. Doing a regional deal with a franchise would not allow for any content integration opportunity. That is why we took the on-ground opportunity when it arose.”

The Star India honcho feels that the shift to the UAE will not affect viewership. “For us, the target of the on-ground sponsorship is on-air viewership. I don’t see this number being affected by the IPL taking place abroad for a limited period of time. Our target is on-air viewership because on-ground you will only get 30–40,000 people in a match. On air, you will get crores of people watching a match. Therefore, visibility on the ground for us is limited compared to what Sony will deliver on-air,” he avers.

Positive advertiser response

Star has already roped in few advertisers as sponsors for IPL online streaming.

“A few deals have been closed. HUL is one brand that is with us. Other deals are being done. The viewership on StarSports.com for the T20 World Cup was much more than what it was online during last season’s IPL on YouTube. This has given advertisers the confidence to do business with us.

“More smartphones are being sold, which means more audience for mobile video watching. The second factor for the great performance of StarSports.com during the T20 World Cup is that connectivity has improved with 3G. The third reason is the experience that StarSports.com offers.”