Star Sports, the official broadcaster of the 2016 Olympic Games for the Indian subcontinent, is expected to put out more than 3,000 hours of sporting action on television and its digital platform Hotstar, potentially making Rio the most watched Olympic Games in India ever.
While Star India will simulcast the games on all eight Star Sports channels (four in standard definition and four in high definition), Hotstar will simultaneously make available 14 live feeds and 36 concurrent feeds from Rio on its Olympics video player.
“The Olympics are the pinnacle of a multi-sports event, and as India prepares to send its largest ever contingent, Star Sports is leaving no stone unturned to provide the most comprehensive access to Indian sports fans. We will provide unprecedented coverage by dedicating eight channels on a 24x7 basis across the entire duration of the event. Also, for the first time ever, the Olympics will be broadcast (24x7) in two languages, English and Hindi,” Star Sports CEO Nitin Kukreja said in Mumbai on Thursday.
The Olympics content on Hotstar will be available for free and will be ad-supported.
“While Hotstar is covering Olympics for the first time, we are excited that we are bringing an all-round coverage of the Olympics for the Indian digital user... our focus will be not just on making every moment of the Olympics available to the fans but also to provide them the ability to create personalized, interactive experiences that allow them to follow and watch what is of unique interest to them,” said Ajit Mohan, CEO, Hotstar.
Star Sports has also exclusively created an elite panel of international and Indian Olympians as well as sports experts such as Ian Thorpe, Prakash Padukone, Anjali Bhagwat, Viren Rasquinha and Rehan Poncha who will analyse and connect with the Indian viewers as live action unfolds at the Olympics.
The Games, running from 5 August to 21 August, will, for the large part, play out during prime time in India. Coverage will start at 3.30pm with pre-analysis followed by live coverage at 4.30pm, which will continue until 5am. The feeds provided by the International Olympic Committee will be shared by Star India with public service broadcaster Doordarshan.
To be sure, Star India is doing what it can to increase viewership numbers. But it does have a challenge at hand, say experts. For instance, the 2012 London Olympics was viewed by 90 million Indians. Compare that to the Indian Premier League, the popular Twenty20 tournament, which was watched by 1.2 billion viewers this year.
“As a television property, Olympics is not very big in India, it never has been. We are not a multi-sport nation, so in that sense, the viewership is limited. Having said that, we will see some amount of interest around sports such as hockey, wrestling and badminton, and the 100m dash,” said Mallikarjun Das, CEO, Starcom India, a media agency. He added that Olympics content on Hotstar will definitely see a surge in viewership with affluent urban audiences logging on. “However, you have to remember that 70% of Indian audiences are still on 2G networks,” he said.
The property is drawing a fair amount of interest from advertisers, though, since it is considered to be prestigious.
Athletes such as Dipa Karmakar (gymnastics), Saina Nehwal (badminton), Jitu Rai (shooting) and Shiv Thapa (boxing) are likely to heighten viewer interest.
The broadcaster is already in advanced talks with sponsors, but declined to name them.
According to industry estimates, co-sponsorship rights for Olympics broadcast are going at a price tag of approximately Rs.8.5-9.5 crore, while associate sponsorships are going for approximately Rs.5.5 to 6.5 crore. A 10-second ad spot is being pegged at around Rs.1.75 lakh.
For Hotstar, the sponsorship rate is pegged at Rs.2 crore each.