With COVID-19 bringing all the LIVE sports action worldwide to a screeching halt, Sports broadcasters are exploring their archives for content to fill the slots and address the challenge of retaining their viewership.
Sony Pictures Sports Network too has revisited its archive, while its still continues to get some fresh WWE content, to deal with the unexpected situation. Sony Entertainment president Rohit Gupta has though accepted that fact that LIVE content is the only way forward for sports broadcasters. But they will have to rely on best events from the past to keep the business going.
In broadcast business sports genre is the most affected as the best audience traction for the sector comes from LIVE Sports action. Nothing else gets audience to sports networks in big numbers.
In the Indian sports broadcast sphere, LIVE limited overs cricket involving the Men in Blue sell the most. It is often stated, repeat of Indian cricket team’s games are the next best in terms of audience attraction.
That’s the reason curated and archived cricket content features prominently in Star Sports’ strategy to keep fans engaged during the COVID-19 enforced lockdown.
The changing content consumption trend among television audience has thrown a bigger challenge to the sports broadcasters. According to a joint report by BARC & Nielsen News has been the biggest gainer while Sports has lost the most in audience ratings during the week between March 14 and 20.
India’s leading sports broadcaster has started to air content which gives viewers a chance to relive some of the greatest victories from the ICC World Cup – right from the 1983 World Cup final to MS Dhoni’s last-ball six that saw India win the 2011 World Cup afer 28 years.
International Cricket Council’s media rights partner will also benefit from the ICC decision to open its archives when there is no LIVE cricket due to Coronavirus threat.
Besides the World Cup rivalries, greatest games between arch-rivals India and Pakistan are next on Star’s broadcast list. The rivalry week, which will get underway from April 4 to April 10, will help viewers get a chance to watch and look back at glorious contests, from the ICC World Cup 1992 to the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 and even the thrilling contest from the ICC World Cup 2019. To bring balance and ensure an eclectic mix to the rivalry week, the network has also included special non-live shows such as ‘Hindustan Zindabad’, ‘Sachin Presents’, ‘Silly Point Live’, ‘Sledgehammer’ and ‘Frenemies’ that have been slotted for the 7 PM IST band.
Under normal circumstances, this would have been the Indian Premier League time for sports lovers in the country. Since there in no IPL LIVE action in sight, Star Sports besides the highlights package which is part of the non-live regular programming schedule, the network has also lined up 50 of the greatest IPL matches from March 29, 2020.
Star Sports First has been airing full match repeats of the vivo IPL every evening at 6:30 pm. In fact, SS First has registered a massive 50% growth in its consumption this week which has primarily been driven by full match repeats of the vivo IPL. SS First began airing full matches of the vivo IPL from March 16th in its prime-time band between 6.30 PM to 11.00 PM IST which has directly resulted i a significant spike in consumption.
IPL repeat shows Star Sports First have been the most-watched sports content in the BARC Week 11 ratings between March 14 and 20.
Star Sports will be going a step further for its regional network. From April 11 onwards, the broadcaster will run a poll across select social media platforms where viewers will be able to choose which IPL match would they want to watch that week, from a provided list of options. This poll will be accelerated using the social media platforms of the experts. The matches which garner the highest votes will be slotted for prime-time around 7 pm. In this way, Star Sports has ensured that all our audiences are rounded off and directed to their screens.
Moving ahead, starting April 12, Star Sports plans to help viewers relive India’s scintillating victory in the ICC World T20 2007 with full match repeats of all India games.
Sony Sports Network, while relying heavily on archived show for now is also offering WWE Action, which has so far not been telecast in India. Sony’s WWE content from March 31 to April five will include WWE Raw (six hours) and WWE SmackDown (four hours), including the repeats.
SPNI will also be airing a curated show “Colour Me Blue- Jemimah Rodrigues – Up & Coming Star” as part of its series with the Indian women cricket team stars.