New Delhi: Broadcaster Star India Pvt. Ltd, which has the rights to the Indian Premier League (IPL) for the next five seasons, will seek to make watching the Twenty20 cricket tournament a new experience for television viewers, but doesn’t expect to make a profit in the upcoming season.

“The only way to make money on any property is to make it really valuable for the fans. So, for the first year the target is to make it the most exciting tournament. It is not about making money. It’s about catering to the fans; to me that’s the only objective that Star India is solving for right now," managing director Sanjay Gupta told journalists in Gurugram on Wednesday.

Star India won the television, digital, Indian and global media rights to IPL for the next five seasons for Rs16,347.50 crore in September.

“Over the next five years, it will be a very profitable property for us. But I don’t think in the first year we are solving for profits. We are solving for fans. We have never invested so much in creating content, we have never taken a game and put 6 channels behind it. Its going to be on air for a total of six months, not just the two months of the tournament. We are investing in virtual reality," he added.

The channel’s efforts to refashion IPL viewing have focussed on technology—virtual reality in particular—and local language feeds. IPL 11 will be broadcast in six different languages, including Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Bengali.

The channel wants the popular league to be accessible to a larger set of brands. “We want to make it more democratic for brands, making IPL available to a larger number of brands. What IPL also needs is for more brands to participate, in fact what sports needs is for more brands to participate. Today it is very limited; only 30-50 brands participate," said Gupta.

The channel is aiming for a targeted approach to advertising across TV and digital media.

“We want to make IPL available to every brand in this country, you can be a local brand only in Tamil Nadu and be on IPL and you can be a national brand that advertises on IPL. You can put money only on digital on Hotstar, or you can put money only in Hindi on TV, and still be on IPL," Gupta said.

IPL as a brand is valued at over $400 million; it is a league that all professional cricketers across the world aspire to play in. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) invited brands to participate in on-ground sponsorships last week. On Friday, BCCI invited bids to appoint up to a maximum of six official partners, one strategic timeout partner and one umpire partner, for the forthcoming seasons.

BCCI, which has opened fan parks, essentially a stadium-like experience with giant screens across tier-II cities in 2015, is planning to expand that to many more cities this year. “We are also exploring the possibility of organising these fan parks internationally to capture fans across the globe," said Rahul Johri, chief executive of the BCCI. The BCCI created fan parks across 36 cities last year.

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