Sports in India

July 2017

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EY - Anil Jayraj

Anil Jayraj,
Executive Vice President,
Star Sports

How do you see the growth of the non–cricket sports market in India from a broadcaster’s perspective?

While cricket still is the dominant sport in India from a viewership perspective, we definitely see increasing traction on other sports like kabaddi, football as well as badminton among others. This growth is driven by the increasing interest in the sport on account of India doing well and no. of events/games being telecast of non-cricket genre. As a matter of fact, our non-cricket live events will contribute to above 70% of total live events programing hours. Even from the ratings perspective, non-cricket events are contributing to more than 40% of the top 200 sport events of the entire year. This traction on viewership is also supported by the confidence of the advertisers, who have been increasing their outlays year on year on non-cricket sports. Advertisers have even started to commit to long-term associations with the non-cricket properties. Examples of Hero for ISL, Vodafone for PBL and the recent association of Vivo as title sponsors of the Pro KabaddiLeague demonstrate the confidence that sponsors have on the non-cricket genre to commit to long-term associations and drive value for themselves. We are confident more advertisers will see similar value to associate with non-cricket sports and create unique associations and imagery for themselves in the market.

How are sports channels looking to increase subscription revenue? Has the strategy to launch premium sports channel helped the industry?

The approach to driving subscription revenue increase is to segment the market and cater to the various segments by driving localization, premiumizationand differentiation. Through this 3-pronged approach we want to drive higher engagement with relevant segments and drive overall sports consumption as a genre. The international sports channel strategy has helped us identify and target a significant segment of viewers who are willing to pay premiums to watch premium international sports, and we are further working on how we can grow this viewer base and monetize this segment differentially.

Is there a different sales strategy for SD and HD sports channels? Will the industry differentiate its offerings or will HD be an extension of SD channels?

Our core proposition to advertisers is to provide disproportionate value ownership of sports for select few advertisers, hence a strong through presence across formats. This enables our clients to effectively target their customers following that property. At the moment, our approach would be to keep HD channels as mirrors of the SD channels.

The TV viewing regional diaspora prefers content in regional languages. How will the industry look to cater to this diversified regional sports viewing audience?

Our experience with delivering sports in regional language started with Star Sports in Hindi, which received very good traction and adoption by viewers and indicated to us the potential of regional feeds. We broadcast the 2015 Cricket World Cup in different regional languages. This was further extended to our non-cricketing properties like ISL and PKL, which had regional languages feeds and helped in driving consumption of the leagues in those markets. Recently, we have launched Star Sports Tamil, and the initial response has been encouraging and we are confident that we are on the right track.

How will digital players look to monetize non-cricket sports on digital?

For us, through Hotstarwe have seen increased engagement on all non-cricket properties, particularly on the Premier League and the Rio Olympics. The digital medium allows subscribers to access content personalized to their profiles. The advertisers also get value as the medium allows for customized messaging to be delivered to viewers basis customer profiling. These are still early days of digital monetization. Focus is on growing viewer base, which is growing at a significant pace driven by the explosion in data consumption.