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Select IPL 2023 matches to be broadcast live on Star’s FTA channel: Report

The matches will be broadcasted live on Star Utsav movies with Hindi commentary.

Disney Star is set to broadcast 12 crucial IPL matches free on its FTA channel, Star Utsav Movies. It is for the first time ever that Disney Star will telecast IPL on a free-to-air channel.

Disney Star confirmed the development. "This year, for the first time, Star Sports will take 12 IPL games on FTA via its Star Utsav Movies channel."

Through the FTA channel, it is expected to reach an additional 200 million viewers. The network aims to give an unserved audience an opportunity to sample high-quality content that Star Sports presently makes available only to its Pay TV subs. The hope is, based on this viewing experience, many will transition to Pay TV, helping this universe grow.

Star Sports is the official broadcaster of IPL in India and all the matches will be broadcast live on its premium sports channel with multiple language and HD viewing options. 

On Star Utsav Movies, the matches will be broadcast with Hindi commentary in SD quality, the report stated.

This move is significant as Disney Star’s decision to offer matches free of cost on its FTA channel will give option to the audience to see the matches live free of cost on their television. It comes at a time when Reliance backed video streaming platform Jio Cinema will stream IPL for free.

Karan Taurani, senior vice president, Elara Capital commented on this development and said, “We believe that this is primarily on the back of viewership growth pressure as Star have anticipated that this year IPL is available free on Jio Cinema, and side by side there is decline in the pay TV household base.  However, this is a good strategy by Star as it may keep the pay TV household number in tact and more than compensate the losses made by reduction in pay Tv households (annual loss of ~3%, which is 5mn households), as against an addition of 35-40mn FTA households.”

He stated  that this in turn will provide a competitive edge for Star vs Jio cinema and make total viewership reach possible towards 500mn on par with what Jio cinema has been providing for marketers. 

Talking about competition between Star and Viacom18, he said, “Sports as a content offering remains to be preferred on the large screen and don’t see big threat for linear tv consumption unless: smart TV numbers scale up (currently at 15%) or broadband penetration grows substantially (currently at 17%), as increased adoption of smart tv with affordable data has structural advantages like 1) 4K - better viewing experience and 2) interactivity , which linear TV does not offer.

He believes that sports as a genre is more viewed in larger groups as compared to digital which is personalised in nature, that in turn will also propel time spent on TV led by mass viewership. 

“We hope that this free offering on FTA stays only for a few matches going ahead too and does not extend to more matches, as it will be a big negative impact for monetisation of the most expensive entertainment IP in india. We hope the Jio cinema offering too comes behind the pay wall next season onwards, as pure ad monetisation opportunities don’t support the high content cost, which makes business economics unviable,” he observed.  

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