IPL-9 helps Star India score on digital media

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Star India Pvt. Ltd made an ambitious bet on the Indian Premier League’s (IPL) digital rights last year. It now seems that its aggressive strategy may be working. The company’s Hotstar mobile streaming app has more than doubled its viewership to 100 million in the ninth season of the IPL-from 41 million at the end of the previous season. Ajit Mohan, chief executive officer, Hotstar, said the milestone gives the company confidence to put its live sports content behind a paywall in the next few months. That may help the company, which media buyers estimate generates about Rs.40-50 crore in advertising revenue from an IPL season, bring in additional revenue. In February 2015, Star India bid Rs.302.2 crore to win the global Internet and mobile rights for IPL for a three-year period, beating Times Internet Ltd and Multi Screen Media Pvt. Ltd. While nobody expects the IPL digital rights property to be profitable in itself, the popularity of the sports events will help Star India draw valuable viewers to its Hotstar platform, which also sells subscriptions for movies and TV series. Hotstar recently started selling its most popular international TV series and films, largely from the 21st Century Fox library, for a monthly subscription fee of Rs.199. It has more than 85,000 hours of drama and movies in eight languages, and coverage of every major global sports event. Launched in February 2015, the Hotstar app has been downloaded by more than 68 million users across devices and platforms.
Mohan said that the growing viewership indicates the sense of comfort that users have with the digital medium. “Online viewers are no longer a small, niche category; it’s a large user base now. We believe we have made a huge contribution to the IPL by bringing in a new audience base to the tournament,” said Mohan. Mohan is referring to the millennials?in the age group of 18-24 which made up more than 50% of Hotstar’s viewership base. While most do not watch the entire match online, the average time spent per user ranges between 30-35 minutes, according to Hotstar. The viewership on Star India’s multi-sport digital platform peaks at 8-9pm-the same time when an IPL match (evening slot) begins. “This consumption pattern is led by (the view that) we don’t have control of the (TV) remote (in the house)-this is the most common thing that we have heard,” added Mohan. The majority of the users (61%) accessed the matches on mobile handsets and live in the top 10 metros, including Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Pune and Chandigarh.

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