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International sports deserve that enhanced viewing experience that HD offers: Nitin Kukreja

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International sports deserve that enhanced viewing experience that HD offers: Nitin Kukreja

Last month Star India’s announcement of dedicating eight channels for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games made headlines with Star Sports and Hotstar broadcasting over 3,000 hours of live content. Now it is upping its game by bringing out two new HD channels called Star Sports Select HD1 and HD2 exclusively for international tournaments like Premiere League, Bundesliga, Formula One and Grand Slam titles.

Nitin Kukreja, CEO, Star Sports says, “With Star Sports Select HD1 and HD2 we will be creating a destination with more games, lot more behind-the-scenes coverage and game analysis which sometimes get missed out. It will be much more enhanced viewing experience as it will only be HD. This will be supplemented by the multi-platform viewing experience of Hotstar.”

The channels will go live from the first week of August. Kukreja discusses his content strategy, “From the start, we will have build-up programming to Premiere League scheduled on August 13. It will consist of analysis of how the teams are stacking, what to look forward to in terms of strength of each team and more. Then Bundesliga starts on August 26.” It’s clear that Kukreja knows his TG as he is not experimenting with any other language when it comes to feed and strictly restricting it to English.

When asked about the need for two HD channels, Kukreja stresses on the potential and growth of HD which is currently at seven million households.  “We think that international sports deserve that enhanced viewing experience that HD offers. HD, which is a four-year-old phenomenon, is obviously going to take a bigger piece of consumption pie. It happens at a faster pace because of word-of-mouth and sampling. It is going to surprise us in terms of where it is headed from the start of the year.”

He adds, “We were getting mindful of the fact that we were not able to showcase all the games and content available to us. Now having these two channels allows us to do so much more. It doesn’t just mean showing the games but so much around them.”

The channels will be available across DTH and cable operators who are doing high definition. Keeping in mind the spread and reach of SD television sets Kukreja will simultaneously keep a transition period to ‘exit out of standard definition coverage of the events.’ He explains, “Till October 31, these games will be available on standard definition. From there on, it will move to high definition and become an exclusive destination for these events.”

The network will produce in house content and take it from EPL (English Premiere League). However, the former will depend from sport to sport. He goes on, “Each of these properties will start getting its due attention and due coverage and destination that you can go to enjoy not just the live content but the surround content.”

Content strategy will be more driven towards football with emphasis on EPL and other tournaments. Kukreja justifies, “Football by virtue of its sheer volume is going to be much higher. If you look at EPL, Bundesliga and then a Formula One and Wimbledon, I think the volume is certainly going to be skewed towards football. Looking at it we will do content exclusively from Indian perspective. Current shows on football like ‘Lets Football’ and others will have many more manifestations specifically for Indian fans.”

Tight-lipped about the sponsors on board and ad rates for the channels, Kukreja is focussing more on giving meaningful association value to the sponsors than the number of advertisers. “We are in advanced conversations and the sponsors are very excited. It will be restricted to few set of advertisers so that they get meaningful association value. At times it will not even be double digits.”

A full 360-degree marketing campaign for the channels will be launched this week. Kukreja is insistent on getting the consumer proposition right. He shares, “That’s the most important piece to start off with. This is the first manifestation in terms of what we are doing for international sports fans. It will build itself into many other things from content perspective and manifest in advertising as well.”  


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