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Star Sports to have multiple regional-language feeds for cricket World Cup

MUMBAI: Star Sports will telecast the cricket World Cup, which will be held in early 2015, in multiple regional-language feeds to deepen penetration.

As part of this strategy, the sports broadcaster will target South India. A Star Sports executive told TelevisionPost.com that there will be three to four regional­-language feeds.

star sports logo“We are looking to go beyond just English and Hindi. We are working out what these languages will be. Looking to increase the time spent, we will be targeting South India. The other advantage that the cricket World Cup will have compared to the 2011 edition is our digital platform Starsports.com, which was not present three years back, “ he added.

Encouraged by an increase in the number of events it is airing this fiscal, Star Sports is looking to more than double its ad revenue.

While not revealing figures that he expects his channels to earn, the executive said that overall the sports broadcasting genre will earn Rs 25 billion in the fiscal.

“In the previous fiscal, the genre made Rs 16 billion. The increase will see sports eating into something else like magazines or news. That is because news too is consumed by males. A large part of this increase for the sports genre will be on account of the cricket World Cup in 2015. Then there will be more properties. This is a busy year. We have the Indian Super League which wasn’t there last time. We expect to more than double our revenue. 80 per cent of our revenue comes from cricket.”

While he acknowledges that not having the event in India could be an issue, he adds that Australia ratings in the past have been better than England.

“If you look at past data ratings from Australia, India matches have fared better than India versus England matches. Besides, a lot will depend on how India fares in the World Cup. If they do well, you will see viewers increasingly flocking to our channels,” he explains.

ICC world cup 2015For the Indian Super League (ISL), the broadcaster is using an integrated ad sales approach. “We will have sponsors present across the three platforms—on-ground, on-air and on digital. This is going to be our approach for all our properties wherever possible. We already have Hero as the title sponsor for the ISL. Now we are looking at getting seven associate sponsors from whom we are asking Rs 120–150 million. We are also looking at three to four partners in different categories like kit. The deals will be for three years.”

The integrated approach to ad sales for the official is clearly the way forward. “There is clear value in integration. We want clients to get maximum brand saliency. For the ISL, we want to avoid any possibility of ambush marketing which has happened in the past with events like the IPL. That is why we are giving clients multiple touch points.”

Another new event for the broadcaster will be Mahesh Bhupathi’s upcoming tennis league. The official confirmed that the International Professional Tennis League (IPTL) will be on Star Sports’ platter. “We will be working with him on this. Mahesh Bhupathi has roped in the best names like Nadal. The format is interesting. You will get to see rivals play on the same team.”

In terms of international soccer that Star Sports has, the official is bullish on the English Premier League (EPL). “If you look at previous seasons, every time there is a Fifa World Cup, EPL ratings go up by 35–40 per cent that season. We are looking at almost doubling our revenue from this season.”

The focus for him is more on the EPL than on the Italian and Spanish soccer leagues. “The Spanish league has been growing and we would definitely want to retain it. The Italian league is lagging. But the fact is that some properties take time to grow. They have to be nurtured. We are planning to do a language feed for soccer in Hindi sometime in the future, but I cannot comment on the timeline. As of now, the ISL will be in English,” he reveals.

Handsets, auto, e-commerce, banking and telecom are some of the categories that use the Star sports channels the most. In terms of cricket, the issue is whether interest will go down after India’s poor performance in the Test series against England.

The official, however, notes that advertisers take a longer-term point of view: “The viewer sentiment towards cricket changes quickly. If India wins the ODI series, then the sentiment will turn positive. Advertisers, on the other hand, take a longer-term point of view. Ad rates for cricket are up by 15–20 per cent over the previous fiscal.”

He maintains that the ad inventory available in cricket is limited. “Demand from clients for cricket is higher than supply. For ODIs the rate is over Rs 400,000 for our India cricket properties. For Test cricket, the rate is much lower at Rs 80,000–100,000. We have already sold 20 per cent of our inventory for the India versus West Indies home series,” he said.

The Pro Kabaddi League is another growth area for Star Sports. “We did not sell much this year. That is because we had set the pricing high, but advertisers wanted to see the proof of the pudding. They ended up missing the bus. Next year, though, we expect to see a strong response from advertisers,” said the official.

He admits that the Hockey India League is struggling from an ad revenue perspective. “The problem is that advertisers are used to ratings logic. Sports need to be valued differently. That is why you have sports marketing companies. The Indian Badminton League is more promising, but again the scale is quite small compared to cricket,” he adds.