Star Sports eyes breakeven, revamp on the cards

Star SPorts

STAR Sports is aiming for a break even in the current financial year. To achieve the goal, the broadcaster is heading to restructure its sports business.

“We are seeing a lot more traction in sports and we think that fiscal 2017-18 will be profitable for our sports business,” Economic Times has quoted the STAR India MD, Sanjay Gupta, as saying. The company’s sports business will achieve operational breakeven for the first time in the current financial year, the MD has said.

Star India has divided the sports business into three parts: Star Sports First, a Free-To-Air sports channel, targeting people who have never had access to sports; Star Sports 1 and 2, which will have popular sports like cricket, kabaddi, football; and Star Sports Select, which will bring in all international content – English Premier League, Bundesliga, Wimbledon, French Open and other international cricket from South Africa, England, and Australia, where a smaller set of audiences is interested. There will also be more regional language feeds.

The company’s investment in sports has been more than Rs 20,000 crore so far, and it will continue to invest in the business. “We have invested a lot more than Rs 20,000 crore, which we announced in 2013. A lot of it is in new sports, including Kabaddi, and we are continuing to invest,” Gupta said.

Star India will bid for IPL media rights, both television and digital, he said. “We are interested in IPL, but we will be very sensible about what price we bid. As we have presence in both TV and digital, we will bid for both. We haven’t taken a call on whether we will bid for global rights yet,” he said.

IPL’s media rights for a five-year period, from the next season in 2018 to 2022, are up for grabs. While interested parties may pick up the tender document starting July 19, the tender is expected to open by August 25.

“The FTA market in the Hindi heartland – UP, MP and Bihar – hasn’t had access to sports. The only sports that reaches them is DD Sports and that will have only one or two big matches of India and they don’t even get to know what is happening in the world of sport. So Star Sports First will be the first handshake for those viewers with sports,” Gupta said.

Star will not offer live India cricket on Star Sports First but will give viewers some access to content so that consumers have awareness and desire for sports. It will have Kabaddi along with local leagues. It will also have sports-related content, which could be educational as well as inspirational. “If you want to change the culture of the country and make it a sporting nation, we can’t be denying a large set of population where they can’t even have a handshake with sports,” Gupta said.

In the second bucket will be the popular sports in English, Hindi, Tamil and future channels in other regional languages. “We will have many more languages in sports. We will be looking at Telugu or Kannada as the next language for sports channel launch within a few months. The idea is to grow the sports by localisation in a big way,” Gupta said.