The Indian media group, Disney Star is set to broadcast 12 of the Indian Premier League (IPL) games on its free-to-air channel Star Utsav Movies for the first time since acquiring the TV rights six years ago.
This initiative is anticipated to significantly increase Disney Star’s audience in the rural market. Disney Star confirmed the news, stating, “This year, for the first time, Star Sports will take 12 IPL games on FTA via its Star Utsav Movies channel.”
Explaining the idea behind the decision, a senior executive of the network, said, “In taking select IPL games to FTA, we aim to give an unserved audience cohort the opportunity to sample the top-quality content proposition that Star Sports presently makes available only to its Pay TV subscribers. As income and aspiration levels grow among these FTA viewers, Disney Star expects that many of them, based on their viewing experience of this content, will transition to Pay TV, helping this universe grow further from its current base of 168 million connections (BARC Data).”
Industry insiders point out that this could possibly be Disney Star’s plan to thwart Viacom18 Sports‘ decision to stream the competition for free on JioCinema. The broadcast rights have been sold to two distinct networks for the first time in the history of the IPL, and both parties are doing all in their power to draw advertisers and viewership.
Sports18 already declared in January that it would offer free IPL streaming in 11 regional languages, including Bengali, Tamil, and Bhojpuri.