After a 30% rise in online viewership of the Indian Premier League (IPL) matches last year, its now the turn of the ICC World Cup 2015. According to industry estimates, Star Sports digital properties got 34 million unique visitors across the web and mobile just nine days after the start of the tournament. Of this, starsports.com got 24 million viewers and 10 million viewers logged on to hotstar — the newly-launched, on-demand video service — to watch the matches.
Moreover, World Cup videos released on both properties together have generated 71 million views. Of this, videos released on starsports.com have generated 45 million views, while videos released on Hotstar have generated 26 million views. “We operate in three areas — drama, movies and sports — and after last year’s experience during the IPL, we realised that demand for content online has never been this high. Hence, we launched a new platform — Hotstar. In fact, such has been the success of Hotstar that it crossed a million downloads in the first week of is launch,” said Sanjay Gupta, COO, Star India.
Analysts believe that the broadcaster’s idea to launch Hotstar in February this year, just before the beginning of the tourney paid off. “As the matches are being played in Australia, the difference in time makes it difficult to watch all the matches. With a property such as Hotstar, Star has been able to reach out to a large number of viewers,” said Preetesh Chouhan, SVP (APAC), Vdopia, an online video advertising firm.
Viewers are not the only one flocking to the digital properties. Star Sports is all set to earn an additional revenue of about R20 crore from advertising on both starsports.com and Hotstar. For Gupta of Star India, digital is a five-year game plan. “We do not expect to make big money for our digital properties from day one. With the launch of Hotstar and other services online, we are preparing for the future. Currently, it’s more about investing in building a strong digital business,” he added.
The broadcaster expects Rs 700-800 crore in revenues from the World Cup advertising. It is earning R3-4 crore from sponsorship deals for its digital properties, including startsports.com and hotstar. Apart from getting advertisers such as Maruti, Hero MotoCorp and Ola Cabs, Star has also managed to get brands like Vodafone and Pepsi, which has refrained from TV advertising so far, on its digital properties. “It makes more sense for brands such as Vodafone to advertise online, as the youth spends a lot of time consuming content online,” said Harsha Joshi, executive vice-president, group trading, Dentsu Aegis Network.
For the time being, the advertising deal for the digital properties is restricted to sponsorship, but Gupta said the broadcaster is game for opening the inventory for all advertisers in the future. “If advertisers want to buy ad spot on the digital platforms in the same manner as they do on TV, we are open for it,” he added.