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Star Sports 1 Hindi sees a massive viewership growth, but can it sustain post-IPL?

Star Sports 1 Hindi’s viewership has soared in BARC charts. The broadcaster says a mix of IPL, other popular sporting leagues and innovation storytelling and production value among other factors have fuelled the growth. analyses if the channel can maintain the growth story after the cricket league

Star India’s dedicated Hindi sports channel Star Sports 1 Hindi has been ruling BARC India’s chart of top 10 channels across genres ever since the research body resumed the publishing of data.

According to the Week 15 data of 2019, Star Sports 1 Hindi has registered 1,111 million weekly Impressions. The channel is also leading the top five sports’ channels and top 5 sports’ programmes chart, as per the data.

BARC had stopped publishing data in the public domain after the implementation of TRAI’s NTO order as it had caused a disturbance in the TV ecosystem. But the measurement company had to restart publishing of data from Week 13 after pressure from the regulator.

The success of the channel can be attributed to the commencement of the popular sporting event Indian Premier League 2019. But, is this growth solely on the back of IPL 2019 or are there any other factors that have also accelerated the growth in viewership?

In a statement, the broadcaster said that while IPL is undoubtedly the most popular sporting event in India, it wasn’t just IPL that helped the channel to get viewership.

“Ever since the launch of 24x7 Hindi sports channel, we have reimagined the broadcast of our live events through the help of broadcast innovations such as the use of AI, compelling graphics, innovative storytelling and the use world-class production equipment, helping build a strong fanbase for Star Sports 1 Hindi. Star Sports 1 fans, who were traditionally not comfortable in consuming sports in English, started to develop a connect with the sport,” the statement read.

Star Sports 1 Hindi is host to some of the world’s popular sports such as Pro Kabaddi, Indian Super League, which has helped it to reach a wider set of audience. According to the statement, the popularity of IPL and the efforts that go behind the production and broadcast of the tournament only adds to the growth in popularity of the tournament. 

Star India had won the five-year broadcast rights of IPL for a whopping Rs 16,000 crore in 2017. Hence, IPL 2019 is like a do-or-die situation for the broadcaster as they are eyeing to increase its overall revenue by at least 35%-40%. While the disruption of the TV ecosystem following the implementation of TRAI’s NTO has acted as a challenge, Star India focused on offering dedicated and curated programming for IPL 2019 to attract viewers. The broadcaster has also launched a national marketing campaign, ‘Game Banayega Name’, which further helped the broadcaster to create a massive buzz ahead of the tournament, resulting in garnering a record-breaking viewership in the opening weeks.

In a statement, the broadcaster said, “HSM Market has always been high on cricket consumption but as India’s leading sports broadcaster, we have always wanted to keep enriching the fan experience, hence to support all the nail-biting cricketing action on-field we bought together over 100 expert commentators across all our feeds. These are former captains, former IPL players, coaches and some legends of the game. In Hindi commentary, some big names include Sunil Gavaskar, Anil Kumble, VVS Laxman, Gautam Gambhir, RP Singh, etc. who bring all the IPL 2019 action to fans in their favourite language.”

Speaking about the massive growth in Star Sports Hindi viewership, an industry expert commented that given India’s great appetite for cricket, the spike wasn’t a surprise. However, the expert also said that the currently available ratings were not completely reliable as the market is in the state of flux. 

Another industry expert stated that seeing the increased competition in the OTT platform and the current NTO, sports and news genre will take precedence on television, in future. “Down the line, it is possible that sports and news will be the two genres that will attract viewers to television,” the expert said.

“All of this would help Star Sports to maintain numbers,” he added.

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