Home / Industry / India World Cup matches deliver a boost for Star’s Hotstar app

New Delhi: India may have lost the cricket World Cup semifinal to Australia in Sydney, but the match delivered a bonanza for the official broadcaster.

Star India Pvt. Ltd counted 50 million views for the match on its digital platforms—one of the highest for a single game in a sporting event across the globe in one country, according to data provided by the broadcaster.

The match played at the Sydney Cricket Ground on 24 March logged double the 25 million views for the India-Pakistan match and beat the 31 million views for the India-Bangladesh fixture across Star India’s Hotstar app and

In addition, the cumulative viewership of the World Cup 2015 on both Hotstar and for all 49 matches played between 14 February and 29 March was 87 million.

The stellar performance had a lot to do with Hotstar, the company’s latest digital offering. Launched a fortnight before the tournament, it spearheaded Star India’s rise in mobile consumption of its World Cup programming.

“Growth around digital on sports is massive and we’ll be looking at crossing these numbers with the IPL. The primary destination for the IPL will be Hotstar. Since the IPL is daily, we have an opportunity to build a habit on mobile," said Ajit Mohan, head of digital at Star India.

“We are also doing a pre-show before every match only on Hotstar and a weekly round-up analysis as well," added Mohan.

For the World Cup, Hotstar created two shows as part of its original content, one with stand-up comedy group All India Bakchod called One Tip One Hand, and a weekly round-up called Juicy Half Volley with a bunch of stand-up comedians including Kannan Gill and Vir Das.

“It was really an experiment, I don’t think we have a point of view yet on what could this be. For both parties, it was an experiment," said Mohan.

Touted as a game changer for the mobile application ecosystem in India, Hotstar is expected to change the way Indian audiences consume television content. Interestingly, long-form content has picked up on Hotstar on the back of Star’s television show portfolio and movie library.

“Conventional wisdom in this space was people will only watch short clips on the mobile and will only watch user-generated content. But we see people are moving from shorter format content to watching TV format show durations on mobile," said Mohan.

“Our hypothesis was that this (TV content) is underserved; people are watching user-generated short clips because they didn’t have access to quality content packaged in a quality experience, which was the entire reason we said ‘let’s put all this together in Hotstar’.

“I think the fact that we were betting that people have appetite for that and that appetite will extend to the mobile screen remains. So if you look at the consumption, it’s a validation that consumers actually want to watch long-form content," added Mohan.

Star India has invested substantially in the technology and back-end support behind the app and will announce a global technology partner soon.

The broadcaster is betting that television consumption on the mobile phone will be the future driver of growth in viewership.

“All kinds of content is already seeing a lot of traction on mobile. It started with news and music, and now video content is pretty much omnipresent here. The way Hotstar is bringing the whole entertainment and sports category on mobile, it is only going to see a colossal shift in the way people consume mobile content," said Kedar Gavane, head of digital measurement and marketing agency ComScore Inc. in India.

With over 10 million downloads, Hotstar has more than 20 advertisers on its platform such as Flipkart, Tata Motors Ltd, Visa, Kelloggs, Levi’s, Nestlé, P&G, Snapdeal and Coke, among others.

“What Hotstar does is it opens a plethora of advertising opportunities on mobile. However, it is important to note that the big screen will remain supreme in the Indian context as the quality of viewing on mobile does get compromised," said Mallikarjun Das, chief executive of Starcom MediaVest Group, a media-buying agency.

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