Better monetisation with Tata Sky’s sports-viewing experience: Arun Unni

Tata Sky and Star Sports have come together to launch the ‘Star Sports Select Experience’ with the Premier League. This service aims to provide viewers with a fully-immersive experience of their favourite sports, offering more live matches and the option of multi-camera and stadium view. 

Tata Sky’s Sports Add On service journey began this year with Star Sports Select Experience on Roland Garros, Wimbledon, which enabled sports fans the flexibility to choose from simultaneous live matches on Star Sports. Also exclusive to all Tata Sky subscribers were the option of watching Wimbledon highlights and an Inside Wimbledon experience with expert analysis and player interviews. 

Arun Unni, Chief Content Officer, Tata Sky, commented, “Tata Sky believes in going beyond the conventional entertainment platform. At no additional cost to Tata Sky subscribers, the Add-On feature is sure to delight sports fans with wider choices on camera angles, highlights and in-depth information on the sport at their convenience. Tata Sky in partnership with Star Sports has been able to empower subscribers bygiving them freedom of watching multiple live simulcast matches, thus revolutionising the expanse and depth of sports-viewing experience in India.” 

This service can be accessed via the red button on the Tata Sky remote, which will be visible on Star Sports Select 1 and Star Sports Select 1HD, Star Sports 1 (SD & HD), Star Sports 1 Hindi (SD & HD). 

Watch the promo:

In conversation with Adgully, Arun Unni speaks at length about the application of this high-end technology to various genres, tie-up with Star Sports, sports viewership in India, its growth, marketing mix and much more. Excerpts: 

What is the thought process behind launching this service and what does it mean for the future of TV-viewing in India?
What we have seen on our final list of viewer subscriber base is that sports fans are very passionate about whatever sports they like to watch. So we asked ourselves a question that what more can we do beyond just transmitting the channels as they are and how to enhance the viewer’s experience. If a Premier League fan wants more, what would they and what we as a platform can do to support that and many such events. We found out multiple ways to it. First was to just expand the experience itself, which is why not bring more number of matches from the same tournament. Typically a channel can broadcast only one match at a time. If there are multiple matches going on, there is a way to bring all of that to the consumer and we can give them a choice of watching all of them at the same time. Second thing is to deepen the experience. For example, for the same match are there ways in which you can enhance what they are able to see? They would want to know how the field positioning is right now. Like as the stadium view, multi views from the perspective of the captain. We explored both those options. 

We have tied up with Star Sports for three sports – tennis, Premier League and now for cricket. The French Open was an initial experiment with it. We expanded that to the Wimbledon, for which we did something quite interesting. There is something called the Wimbledon Channel, which is officially run by the association itself. They have pre and post match shows, they also have details about these lifestyle events happening around it, for the first time it came to India as part of this add-on. Simultaneously we ran highlights as well. There are additional content options that we opened up to the consumer. All of these are available in a very simple way. When the match is going on, there is a red button and a small ticker that comes on the screen. You press that red button on the remote and there appear two to three windows and you can choose among the additional matches and other options. 

But it has taken quite a while to bring this technology to India, whereas it has been in use in Europe for some years now. What is the reason behind the delay?
This is something that we have been using in other forms on our platform as well. So, these multiple windows are not new to us. If you know the number of interactive services, we have been using this technology for quite some time now. But the application to sports is new and the reason behind this is that it requires a strong partnership between the content maker and the platform to make it happen. One has to plan in advance in terms of getting the rights for additional camera views of that match, only if I have all those rights and the back-end team which can create this video in terms of the video and feed it through these windows, will it all work. So, it needs a seamless kind of co-operation with the content partner, which in this case is Star and us. 

What is the rationale behind tying up with Star Sports?
It is because Star Sports has the rights for these Leagues and matches. In fact, we will be happy to have similar tie-ups with everybody. We are in conversations with others as well for Add-on services. But the rights have to be procured beforehand. If the broadcaster hasn’t procured the additional camera feed rights in advance, then the opportunity to do this is limited. 

How will it take the sports viewership experience to the next level in India specifically?
Such offers give the viewer a much richer and enhanced sports experience. For us, it is about each individual consumer and improvising their sports experiences. If they genuinely feel that their experience has been enhanced, it will manifest itself in a number of ways. I think more number of people will come to watch the content with the viewership going up. But, fundamentally if the person doesn’t like football, I don’t think it will start getting people who don’t like football to watch the game. But those who watch will spend more time on it and engage with the product more often and for a longer period. At the end of the day, it will allow sports to be monetised a bit better. When people will see that the sports experience is higher, they will be willing to pay. We don’t intend to charge more for this service. It’s about making the sports experience for people richer so that they would want to pay for sports. We think that monetisation improves as a result of making the experience richer and so the consumers will stick with the sports package for the long term. 

Is there any possibility of having such technology for other genres as well?
There are multiple ways in which this technology can be applied. It need not be applied only in live context. It can be applied in any context, where you want to give a choice to the consumer and enhance their experience. I think of application in movies, GECs, kids programming, for that matter in any genre – I think there is a potential to apply a similar kind of experience like this. It’s about creatively thinking how you use it. Critical part is not the technology, but the content behind it. We have already done the fourth experiment with cricket with different camera angles on an ongoing basis, providing multiple views, etc. We are thinking of applying it in the GECs and movies front that will come up later.


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