India’s leading media conglomerate STAR is ready to deliver another first in the Industry. Star India is now set to launch India’s first private free-to-air (FTA) sports channel.
Currently, public broadcaster Doordarshan’s DD Sports is the only FTA sports channel in the country. The FTA sports channel, christened Star Sports First, will be launched on DD’s FTA DTH platform Freedish, which has an estimated 22 million subscribers.
InsideSport has already reported earlier that from this season STAR GOLD will not broadcast PRO KABADDI LEAGUE, the flagship property of STAR. Instead of STAR GOLD, now PKL will be broadcasted live on STAR’S free to air SPORTS CHANNEL on free dish.
Star India had won two slots on Freedish in the e-auction conducted by DD on 4 July. One of the slots will be utilised by Star Sports First. Star has also very recently launched India’s first regional sports channel in Tamil. As per the sources in knowhow of the development, “Star will launch an FTA sports channel Star Sports First. The channel is likely to launch before the beginning of the Pro Kabaddi League, which kicks off on 28 July. ”
Freedish has till date only one sports content platform in form of DD-SPORTS. Apart from this freedish has a plethora of content ranging from entertainment, movies, news to music, but does not have quality sports content.
Star Sports First aims to fill in this gap by offering mainly rural audiences with quality sports content. According to an EY report on India’s FTA TV market, just 1% of viewership of sports channels was from the FTA market while the pay market contributed 99% of the viewership.
The broadcaster has got the MIB approval to rename FX HD licence as Star Sports First. Recently, Star had rejigged its sports network by shutting down Star Sports 4 and Star Sports HD 4 and launching Star Sports Tamil 1, Star Sports Select 1 and 2. It had also renamed Star Sports 3 as Star Sports Hindi 1. Star Sports Tamil 1, which is the second regional sports channel from Star, is a mirror of Star Sports Hindi 1, which primarily airs India cricket and local leagues.
Star Sports Select 1 and 2 channels are mirror channels of Star Sports Select HD1 and HD2, the exclusive home of international sporting events. This may be noted, Star Sports network with 11 channels holds the rights of premier sporting properties in the country that includes International Cricket Council (ICC), Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), Cricket Australia, England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and Asian Cricket Council (ACC); Pro Kabaddi; Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL); the Indian Super League (ISL), Premier League, Bundesliga; Badminton World Federation (BWF) events, Indian Badminton League (IBL/PBL); Hockey India League (HIL); Formula 1; Wimbledon, the French Open and International Premier Tennis League.