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Star to use World Cup to launch two new HD sports channels including one in Hindi

MUMBAI: Star India is enticing the cricket World Cup viewers to watch the live high drama on its high-definition (HD) sports channels, including a Hindi-language one which it is readying to launch soon.

Come 1 February, Star India will widen its sports bouquet with two more HD channels Star Sports HD 3, a Hindi HD sports channel, and Star Sports HD 4.

The launch of the channels comes close on the heels of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 that will kick off on 14 February. The ICC World Cup is an ideal time to give push to the new HD channels, though the timing of the matches held in Australia and New Zealand is still an issue.

“We will be launching Star Sports HD3 and HD4 soon,” a Star India official told TelevisionPost.com, without revealing any further details.

Star had last year received uplinking licences to launch three new channels.

“Star will be launching Star Sports HD3 and HD4 from 1 February. The HD channels will mirror the SD channels,” said an industry source on condition of anonymity.

With Star Sports HD3 and HD4, Star will have four HD channels and four standard-definition (SD) channels. Currently, Star Sports, a subsidiary of Star India, operates four SD channels Star Sports 1, 2, 3, and 4, besides two HD channels Star Sports HD1 and HD2.

The HD channels will mirror the SD channels. So Star Sports HD3, like Star Sports 3, will be a Hindi language channel airing India cricket and local sporting leagues while Star Sports HD4, like Star Sports 4, will have premium content such as EPL, La Liga, ATP World Tour and F1.

“Star Sports HD3 will be a Hindi HD sports channels like Star Sports 3. Likewise, Star Sports HD4 will have premium content like Star Sports 4,” the source added.

Similarly, Star Sports 1 and HD1 airs English feed of India cricket and local leagues while Star Sports 2 and HD2 airs a mix of international and local content.

The source also said that the broadcast network is yet to conclude any distribution deal as the nitty-gritty is still being worked out.

The price of the channels has also not been finalised. Star Sports HD1 and HD2 are priced Rs 119.90 and Rs 141.80 respectively. It must be noted here that the HD channels don’t run ads.

Explaining the rationale behind having a Hindi HD sports channel, the source said, “There is an audience available for a Hindi HD sports channel. The sale of HD TV is increasing and as customers choose to migrate to HD, there will be a requirement for a HD sports channel in Hindi also.”

The Hindi HD sports channel is being launched with an eye on the future. “If you look at Star Sports 3, it has a good consumption in Hindi heartland. So if there is demand for a Hindi feed in SD, similarly there would be a requirement for an HD feed also. If not now, in future there will be a movement from SD to HD,” the source explained.

DTH operators like Tata Sky, Videocon d2h and Dish TV have been focusing on HD services to increase ARPU (average revenue per user). Tata Sky and Videocon d2h are planning to roll out 4K ultra HD services.

Star holds the rights to the ICC, BCCI, ECB, Cricket Australia and Champions League T20 (cricket), EPL, La Liga, Serie A and FA Cup (football), besides F1 and ATP World Tour. It also airs local franchise-based leagues like Indian Super League, Hockey India League, Indian Badminton League, Pro Kabaddi League and International Premier Tennis League.