The inaugural season of the IMG Reliance- and STAR India-promoted Hero Indian Super League (ISL) will be aired in five languages, the most for any sport tournament in India. The league is a football tournament. The broadcaster will use its sports channels for the Hindi and English feed. Its regional channels will be used to provide feed in Bengali, Kannada and Malayalam.
STAR India operates six sport channels, four in standard-definition visual feed and two in high. The English feed will be available on STAR Sports 2 and Sports HD in standard and high definition, respectively. The rest in standard definition. The tournament will be telecast in Hindi on STAR Sports 3 (a sports channel for Hindi feed), Gold and Utsav.
The network operates Bengali channels STAR Jalsha and Jalsha Movies; the latter will be used to air the tournament’s Bengali feed. For Kannada and Malayalam, STAR India has the Asianet bouquet, which has five Malayalam channels and two Kannada ones. Asianet Movies will be used to air the Malayalam feed. Asianet Suvarna Plus for the Kannada feed.
STAR India Chief Executive Uday Shankar and Chief Operating Officer Sanjay Gupta had said the network was committed to developing a multi-sport environment in the country and providing multilingual feed for this. Last year, the network telecast Barclay’s Premier League (the football league in England) in English and Hindi for digital cable and direct-to-home subscribers.
The decision to air regional and Hindi feed on film channels follows the success of the recent inaugural edition of the Pro Kabaddi league on STAR Gold. The channel had aired the league live, reaching 435 million during the event.
By the multilingual plan, the network hopes to get a share of 85 per cent of television (TV)-viewers. By airing feed in three new languages during Hero ISL, STAR India will also be expanding the scope of the tournament in the TAM Media Research universe. According to the latest update by the television audience measurement agency, India’s TV viewing population is 266 million. Of this, Karnataka accounts for 5.4 per cent, West Bengal seven per cent and Kerala 2.06 per cent. Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra account for 80 per cent. The feed in Bengali, Kannada and Malayalam will target 14.4 per cent of India’s TV viewers.
Regional language feed for football has proven successful, as in the case of Multi Screen Media (MSM) broadcasting the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Bengali on its Bengali general entertainment and film channel Sony Aath. Bengal became the single-largest contributor to the overall ratings of the tournament in India, accounting for half the country’s viewership.