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Star Sports tests the waters with ad-free service on Tata Sky

MUMBAI: In partnership with direct-to-home (DTH) service provider Tata Sky, sportscaster Star Sports has launched an ad-free premium high-definition (HD) service called ‘Star Sports Premium HD’.

Making its debut on 21 March, with the high-profile India-Pakistan match of the ongoing ICC Twenty20 World Cup in Bangladesh, the service will be available till 6 April. Subscribers will have to pay an HD access fee of Rs 125 per month to view this channel.

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Priced Rs 200, Star Sports Premium HD is currently available only for ICC T20 World Cup and could become a constant feature of Tata Sky’s offering. It was offered free for Tata Sky HD subscribers on 21 March.

While the standard-definition (SD) channels of Star Sports has ad component in them, the HD channels are ad free, except for cross-promotion of sister channels or other properties of the sportscaster.

The ad-free slots will comprise detailed and deeper analysis of the match and player bytes to keep fans engaged with the on-field drama.

“It’s a new offering that we have launched. Star Sports Premium HD will not have any ads. We expect a good uptake for this service,” said Tata Sky MD and CEO Harit Nagpal.

Star India COO Sanjay Gupta had earlier told TelevisionPost.com that HD channels would be a big opportunity in sports.

“Right now, there is a lot of content that we want to put on HD but we don’t have enough HD channels so we would like to have at least four HD channels in sports,” Gupta had said. “The number of HD channel households is close to two million which we expect to grow to 10 million in next 12–16 months. Globally, HD is driven by sports in a big way, followed by movies.”

The latest offering from Tata Sky complements its existing offering of HD sports channels including Star Sports HD1, Star Sports HD2, Ten HD and Sony Six HD.

Star Sports HD1 and Star Sports HD2 form part of South Sports Special. Sony Six, along with Star Sports HD1 and Star Sports HD2, belong to the Supreme Sports Kids.

Ten HD is available on a la carte basis as combo Ten pack along with Ten sports, Ten Cricket and Ten HD, which can be clubbed with any of the above packs.