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Star to launch premium HD sports channels

MUMBAI: After English entertainment, Star India is looking to replicate the premium model in sports with Star Sports Select HD.

The broadcaster is set to launch two premium high-definition (HD) sports channels, Star Sports Select HD1 and Star Sports Select HD2, which will showcase international sporting properties like the English Premier League (EPL), Bundesliga, F1, Wimbledon and French Open.

The new channels will most likely be launched in the first week of August, a source said.

Star-Sports-select-HD-coverStar recently got the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting’s (MIB) approval to rename Star Sports Marathi and Star Sports Marathi HD as Star Sports Select HD1 and HD2 respectively.

The significant thing about the move is that the two channels will remain the exclusive home for international sporting events.

The international events will be available on the existing SD and HD channels till 31 October after they will be exclusively aired on the two new channels.

The four standard-definition (SD) channels and their mirror HD channels will air cricket (ICC, BCCI, Cricket Australia and England Cricket Board) and local sporting leagues like the Pro Kabaddi League, Indian Super League, Hockey India League and Premier Badminton League, among others.

A tiered sports offering will help Star India to lift its subscription revenues up. Broadcasters realise that subscription revenue is the key to the growth and profitability of the sports business in India. Advertising revenue on cricketing and traditionally established properties has matured to a certain extent and organic growth will be less brisk.

According to market estimates, subscription income from the sports broadcasting businesses of Star India and Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL) together is estimated at around Rs 1,400 crore (Rs 14 billion) a year. Sony Pictures Networks India’s (SPNI) total subscription revenue is estimated to be around Rs 1,400 crore.

Star is also planning to put its international properties behind the pay wall on its video streaming service Hotstar.

Hotstar recently rolled out its premium subscription service featuring HBO content. This will be the second subscription service for the platform.

Star had last year launched Star Movies Select HD, which promises to air 365 movies across 365 days.

Star sees HD channels as the next big subscription revenue growth drivers.

While giving a presentation at the second Annual MoffettNathanson Media & Communications Summit last year, Star India CEO Uday Shankar had projected Star’s HD subscriber base to reach 25–40 million in the next 3–5 years from the existing base of 3 million.