Star India to launch India’s First Private Sports channel and it will be named as “Star sports First” . This channel is expected to kick off during Pro kabaddi league which starts from 28 July 2017.
DD Freedish users can enjoy first private Sports channel from Star network
Star India is deepening its association with sports by launching India’s first private free-to-air (FTA) sports channel. Currently, public broadcaster Doordarshan’s DD Sports is the only FTA sports channel in the country. The FTA sports channel, christened Star Sports First, will be launched on DD’s FTA DTH platform Freedish, which has an estimated 22 million subscribers. Star India had won two slots on Freedish in the e-auction conducted by DD on 4 July. One of the slots will be utilised for Star Sports First. Star is also the first broadcaster in India to launch regional sports channels in Hindi and Tamil. “Star will launch an FTA sports channel Star Sports First. The channel is likely to launch before the beginning of the Pro Kabaddi League, which kicks off on 28 July. Freedish will be the primary distribution platform for the channel,” said an industry source on condition of anonymity. While Freedish has a plethora of content ranging from entertainment, movies, news to music, it does not have quality sports content, barring DD Sports, and the events aired by DD National as part of mandatory sharing as most of the sports content is only available on pay TV platforms. Star Sports First aims to fill in this gap by offering mainly rural audiences with quality sports content. According to an EY report on India’s FTA TV market, just 1% of viewership of sports channels was from the FTA market while the pay market contributed 99% of the viewership. Ever since BARC India rolled out viewership data for the rural market, FTA Hindi GECs have been trying to woo the rural populace by cutting down the window for airing fresh content from their pay GECs. The Hindi movie segment has seen three new launches from mainstream broadcasters, namely Star Utsav Movies, Zee Anmol Cinema and Sony Wah. Several pay news channels have gone FTA such as News18 India, Zee News and NDTV India. Freedish has been the biggest beneficiary of all these developments. Recently, NewsX became the first Indian English language channel to hop on to Freedish. The FTA ad market is also on an upswing. While in 2016 the genre garnered an estimated Rs 4–5 billion in ad revenue, this is expected to climb to Rs 8–10 billion this year. Since the majority of Freedish subscribers reside in the Hindi-speaking market (HSM), Star Sports First will be in Hindi. Barring a few Marathi channels, most of the channels on Freedish are in Hindi language. This will be the third FTA channel from Star India network. The other two channels are Star Utsav, which airs repeat content from Star Plus, and Star Utsav Movies. The broadcaster is working on another FTA channel, the details of which are sketchy.
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