How Hotstar Is Winning The ICC WorldCup For Star Sports With Its Content Marketing

Star Sports India launched Hotstar the video streaming site prior to the ICC World Cup 2015. While it is streaming matches it is also creating original content around the games to engage with online audience

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According to industry estimates, Star Sports’ digital properties got 34 million unique visitors across the web and mobile just nine days after the start of the ICC World Cup. Of this, starsports.com got 24 million viewers and 10 million viewers logged on to Hotstar — a video streaming service by Star India.

Additionally, World Cup videos released on both properties together have generated 71 million views. Of this, videos released on starsports.com have generated 45 million views, while videos released on Hotstar have generated 26 million views.

The recent India-Pakistan clash in the ICC World  Cup created history for Star Sports on digital with 25 million views in India – one of the highest for a single game in a sporting event across the globe in one country. “We got 25 million views on two of our digital platforms – Hotstar and STAR Sports – with an average duration of 10-12 minutes. We believe this was the biggest number of views on the digital platform ever for a single match, much more than the five million the Super Bowl in the US had received,” informed STAR India Chief Operating Officer Sanjay Gupta.

Available on web and mobile, Hotstar was launched right before the ICC World Cup 2015. The app registered more than five million downloads in a fortnight’s time. “We operate in three areas — drama, movies and sports — and after last year’s experience during the IPL, we realised that demand for content online has never been this high. Hence, we launched a new platform — Hotstar. In fact, such has been the success of Hotstar that it crossed a million downloads in the first week of its launch,” said Sanjay Gupta.

Launched under its wholly owned subsidiary Novi Digital Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. Hotstar offers more than 35,000 hours of content in 7 different languages—promising viewers a big library of movies, television shows and even live sports (cricket, football, tennis and kabaddi). The Hotstar app is available across all platforms including Android and iOS, or access the content on the web too.

Viewers can watch all the shows telecast on the Star channels a day later on Hotstar. Similarly, for the first time, English dramas and serials that premiere in the US and are showcased on Star in India, will also be available for consumption on Hotstar. Recently the app hosted the live coverage of Oscars 2015.

Original content around ICC World Cup 2015

While the app is a single point of destination for movies, music and sports, the streaming of the ongoing ICC World Cup matches has been the cherry on the top. In addition to the live streaming, original content around the ongoing World Cup has been an attractive piece.

Short videos on best spells, top knocks and highlights of a particular match are a quick way to consume content on the go . However Cricket Collections which include Juicy Half Volley and One Tip Hand are the web episodes that bring the original content with a dash of humor on the web.

Netizens’ love for humor and original content on the web has motivated Star Sports to invest in such exclusive web episodes. Juicy Half Volley with seven web episodes is an attempt to bring a weekly round-up of the ICC Cricket World Cup packed with an overdose of humor. The web episodes aren’t about any in-depth coverage or analysis, it is just having fun and enjoying the game of cricket. The latest web episode features ex-Indian cricketer Murli Karthik. With his present experience in commentary, Murli decodes commentators – what they say on TV and what it actually means.

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Later, on the show, comedian Aditi Mittal along with two non-cricketing experts decode Kevin Peterson’s reaction after England’s shocking exit from the ICC World Cup 2015. Don’t miss the behind the stump conversations and the interesting news coverage from the cricketing world cup in the latest episode (It’s a shame that you can’t embed videos of Star on web).

On the other hand One Tip One Hand is another web series again hosted by stand up comedians, Varun Thakur and Karan Talwar. The latest episode does a postmortem of the recent India-Ireland match with an ode to unstoppable India from comedians Aadar and Abish. The ten minute hilarious web episode analyzes the game really well and don’t miss the “undefeated undefeated” song for the Indian team too.

Future of Star’s online content with Hotstar

The content is for free on Hotstar as Star Sports believes there isn’t any stable payment mechanism in the country available to handle so many views and consumers. For now the monetization is purely through advertising. “It’s a valuable audience and advertising will be very targeted. We can charge a premium versus other digital players,”said Gupta while talking about how the platform would contribute around 20-25% to the overall revenue for Star India in the next 4-5 years.

Hotstar has 35-40 advertisers across various categories, including Coca Cola, Nissan, Nestle and Airtel, as well as e-commerce companies like Snapdeal and Flipkart. “Undoubtedly, Hotstar has stolen the show. Smaller screens are dominating the market today. It is clear the customer is living in the digital age,” added Madhu Dutta, marketing head (lifestyle business), Raymond.

Star’s investment in Hotstar is showing up; after the World Cup comes the IPL madness, for which the channel has already secured rights. Last year there were 60 million video views during the 60 matches, this would dramatically change this year. “We do not expect to make big money for our digital properties from day one. With the launch of Hotstar and other services online, we are preparing for the future. Currently, it’s more about investing in building a strong digital business,” added Gupta.

With more than 200 million active mobile users accessing internet users and 100 million accessing social media via mobile, Star’s offering of Hotstar to the audience with interesting and original content is a sweet deal. Additionally social media activities and watching videos on mobile account 10% each when it comes to mobile activities followed by playing games on mobile, reported the recent We Are Social’s Digital, Social and Mobile in 2015. Not only is it addressing the younger generation with original content but it is also addressing the bandwidth issues, offering options for content to be downloaded and watched at a later time. The broadcaster has also gone one step ahead and is offering this platform on Nokia Asha devices, enabling it to reach people beyond the big cities.

Star India has truly set a bench mark in digital by being a forward thinker, at a time when other bigger content producers are living up to the diktat of YouTube. Surely HotStar is winning the ICC WorldCup for Star Sports India, while educating the audience that the app is also a destination of video content apart from Cricket. The recent acquisition of Screen owned by the Indian Express Group is one such example to boost the offerings of Hotstar. The deal marks the end of Screen’s print avatar and its transformation into a digital-only product by being a part of Hotstar.