After winning the global telecast rights of the Indian Premier League (IPL), preparations are already underway at Star India’s office. The first one is the company’s plans to allow its video over-the-top (OTT) application Hotstar ride the digital wave. Uday Shankar, chairman and CEO, Star India told FE’s Anushree Bhattacharyya how the company’s winning of IPL media rights is a defensive move and not an offensive play. Excerpts:
There is fear amongst other broadcasters, post the win, that Star India will monopolise sports business – is it right?
Contract for a lot of cricket rights are about to get over by next year. For example, the telecast right for BCCI’s domestic matches will end in March next year. This also means that this will be the last domestic games which will be aired on Star Sports league of channels. Moreover, there are other tourneys such as India versus South Africa, India versus Pakistan, etc, for which we don’t have the rights. By winning IPL’s media rights, we have made sure that we have reasonable amount of cricket on our plate. Star India’s IPL win is a defensive move and not an offensive play.
Are there plans to take Hotstar across the globe or would you be tying up with other players like Hulu in the US?
We do intend to launch Hotstar across the globe by next year’s IPL. The fact that this year we had beaten companies, like Airtel which had tied up with YouTube, Facebook, among others, shows how intense the competition was for digital rights. Not to mention, earlier the digital media rights were given at a fraction of today’s price.
How do you plan to telecast IPL in international markets? Will it be aired via network channels of 21st Century Fox?
We will look at the best options. For example, we have sub-licensed telecast rights of ICC cricket leagues to other broadcasters in many markets. So we will chose a
route through which we generate maximum revenue.