Mera State Mahaan – Regionalism at IIMs

One of the amazing aspects about business schools in India is regional diversity. In the clamour around less number of women and lack of non-engineer perspective in the classroom, one good thing that goes completely unnoticed is the excellent regional diversity in an Indian classroom. I doubt if many countries in the world can boast of such diversity within a nation’s borders. One of the highlights of my 2-year PGP programme at IIM Indore was observing in my batch of 240 how people from different parts of India would react when faced with the same situation. It’s a great study and one learns to appreciate different kinds of behaviour.

Another heart-warming aspect is the celebration of different festivals irrespective of the state or the religion. It’s an important part of the 2-year learning and educates you a lot about your own country.

(I do wonder though that even this aspect in a few IIMs is under threat given the thoughtless admission criteria doled out by many top schools of India. Some plainly refuse to normalize scores even today. I do believe that some states are at an advantage based on criteria in a particular year and will send students in bigger numbers.)

What prompted me to write on this issue though was the recent debate in the Parliament around students from North-East feeling marginalized. It’s unfortunate that a few students had to die for us to become aware of this. The subject of this post is not the North-East alone but the larger question about our regional mindset. And when I say ‘our’ it includes my friends, my family and me.

Somehow the state allegiance is so strong that at times it seems as if we are at war with our own colleagues at work or our own batch mates on campus. I understand that it’s natural that one is more comfortable with people from one’s own state or someone who speaks the same language.  But healthy camaraderie is very different from clear in-your-face groupism.

There is a separate mail chain of people from one state where the well-being of all ‘brothers’ is to be ensured. There are drinking parties of people from another state every month where you are invited only if you are from that state. Harmless you would say. But it doesn’t end there. Club, Committee and Society elections is when the regional flavour is at its zenith. “Are we getting enough representation?” “Do we have someone of our ‘own’ in the committee?” People even beg for votes promising well-being of ‘our’ people. I have always wondered who these ‘our’ and ‘your’ people are. For a long time in my life, I thought we are all in the same country. I do not make this mistake anymore. We are different provinces in the same country happy to be in India as long as it suits us.

A little more digging led me to multiple state-based Facebook groups that span across top business schools of India. So Bengalis have their own private group and so do people from Andhra and so do Punjabis and it goes on and on.

I recently came across a closed group on Facebook for people from the same religious community studying in a top business school of India. Clearly, this is not direction we should be heading.

The problem is that it is so ingrained in us to divide each other based on states and languages that you shall see it in the most sophisticated and hitherto assumed as ‘evolved’ and ‘progressive’ places. There is a classic firsthand account of a top consulting firm that recruits from most IIMs. The partner interviewing the candidates had made up his mind before visiting that he will shortlist all people from his state as he wanted to increase the representation of people from his state in his practise. Not only did he shortlist people but also made an offer to a candidate in the 2nd round itself while others went through multiple rounds. This is a true story.

A friend of mine studying in a top school in India told me this incident of a professor who called her in his cabin giving suggestions how to do well at the course and some other general pointers regarding discipline. “The only reason I’m taking so much interest in your well-being is because you’re from my state” – exact words told to her.

Recently, someone pinged me on Facebook. After the exchange of pleasantries the gentleman came down straight to the point. I should recommend him for a job in my company since we both share the same mother tongue.

One would argue that these are sporadic incidents and should not be given too much weight. I don’t believe that any more. It’s out there. It is in your face occurring all the time.

What worries me is that I don’t see it getting any better. I only see it getting worse. In an insecure job environment with burgeoning batch sizes and quotas of various kinds, the incentive to be a ‘protectionist’, ‘regionalist’, ‘elitist’ is only fuelled further. It’s fairly easy these days for anyone to polarize people from a particular state or community by typing a 140 character tweet. People make passionate appeals for the ‘cause of their state’ on facebook with the help of concocted facts attached to a misleading photo. Not surprisingly, they go viral with people believing anything they see or read on such forums.

I have begun to believe that as human beings our basic instinct is to divide. This egoistic craving for one’s identity is what forces us to cling on to concepts like state, race, language and then to claim its superiority over others. I don’t know. May be I’m wrong. But the above incidents deflate one’s spirits. (And just for the record, all the incidents quoted above are from 3 different Top business schools of India. And my belief is that people in other business schools behave the same way. Just that I need to put those incidents which I know have actually taken place.)

Regionalism bothers me. It is one of the many problems that plague our education system. Leading institutions in the country need to be examples of meritocracy and unity. Currently, certain people in these very institutes seem to be taking us in the opposite direction.

– Ankit Doshi

 

 

(The author is an alumnus of IIM Indore –  Class of 2011 and Narsee Monjee College of Commerce and Economics,Mumbai –  Class of 2007.  He currently works with Bank of America Merrill Lynch and has worked with TATA Capital and WhatsonIndia.com  in the past. He still believes that ‘Umang’ NM College’s festival was the best thing to have happened to him where he led a team of 500 students)

 

 

Other articles by this Author

50 things you should know about IIM

The Power of a NGO

6 Traps to be wary of in a business school in India

5 reasons why student-run Placement committees should give way to CDC at IIMs

Final Placements 2012 – The big test for the IIMs

 

Knowledge Cafe on InsideIIM : Understanding the Sports Broadcasting business in India

Football Clubs Finances : The Business of Football

 

Student Exchange – The Most definitive Student Exchange Programme Report – 2011 (One of its kind report for top business schools in India)

 

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Switch Out Of Airtel – The Story of How Airtel Duped Me

It has always been a pain dealing with Airtel Customer Service. I have a prepaid connection and 2 Internet 4G Routers. Until recently, I bore the brunt of bad service and even worse resolution of issues because I didn’t have an option. I have donated a lot of money to Airtel despite their ineptitude. However, my recent experience with Airtel told me that Airtel isn’t incompetent as much as it wants to con people of their money. This is the final straw. I am going to make sure I discourage people from signing up for Airtel and also ensure that people switch out.

I travel abroad at least twice a year. In order to ensure I have connectivity at all times I signed up for the INR 4011/- offer from Airtel. (Check the Image below)

Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 09.42.11

I paid the amount and got a confirmation only to be sent a message saying my main account didn’t have balance and they needed to charge me a rent so I should recharge some money there. I recharged with INR 500/-. The service didn’t work. It didn’t work for the entire period  of my stay. I recharged for various amount to make it work based Airtel’s messages and it didn’t work. I had already paid Airtel over INR 5000/- by now. I complained on Twitter. No response. I wrote to customer care. No response. Finally, I wrote to the Nodal Officer at Airtel for Mumbai circle. (Always remember to write to Nodal officers in telecom companies. It’s always worked for me.)

The resolution offered to me by the Nodal officer was that they would transfer the INR 5000/- back in to my account. I agreed immediately. However, I realised later that all they did was add INR 5000/- to my Airtel Main Balance account and not refund it to my card account. Here is what the problem is, I recharged for international roaming, a service  which Airtel wasn’t able to provide me. Now they want me to use the INR 5000/- for a service I did not sign up for! 

Moreover, despite writing to the Appellate Authority (supposed to be the highest escalation you can do at a company) the only response I kept getting is that there is no provision to refund money. This is a nice way to extort money from people. Get them to pay for a service you can’t deliver. Then tell them that we can’t pay you your money back so use some other service of ours. This is wrong on all levels. (Funnily, the person responding from both Nodal office and the Appellate Authority office is the same – Mr. Mohit Goswami. This means the Appellate Authority and Escalation Matrix is a joke at Airtel. I’m sure TRAI would be thrilled to know this if they do care. The Mailbox of Airtel Appellate Authority becomes full routinely. Imagine the number of complaints!)

However, here is where this situation becomes even worse. Tired of this, I decided to Port my number. I sent a SMS on 1900 to PORT out of Airtel to Jio. I get a call from Airtel offering me unlimited calling at INR 149/- for one year to make me stay. As I discovered during that day, Calling in India has become practically free. Every telecom network is offering insanely cheap plans to retain customers. For e.g. at INR 499/- Airtel Postpaid customers get Unlimited calling and Unlimited data.  If you’re paying a single rupee more than this to Airtel, my suggestion is to get your plan changed or PORT to Jio or any other provider offering a better plan. 

In this scenario, Airtel is forcing me to use and pay for a service which is FREE across India including their own network or costs 1.5% of the cost they want me to pay for it. They even refuse to deduct the balance in my account and give me data instead which they are distributing at pittance to stop customers from switching to Jio. Also, if I PORT my number I lose the balance in my account anyway.

If this is not cheating and a malpractice what is?

A lot of people have asked me why I’m raising such a hue and cry for a small amount of INR 5000/-. My response is that INR 5000/- is not a small amount in my eyes. As a CEO of a profitable start-up I know that more than anyone else. Also, this needs to stop. If customers keep donating money to big companies who fleece them without raising a voice it will encourage more Sales heads to encourage such practices so that they can reach their Sales target.

I will try to reach as many people as I can through this platform. Next goal is to reach someone at TRAI but before that make sure this piece reaches IIM Calcutta alumnus and CEO of Airtel Gopal Vittal. I have also filed a complaint with Department of Telecom here.

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CAT Takers – Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously

This is for all those who take themselves too seriously.  All those who think that their performance in CAT is what will define them for the rest of their life.

Take it easy.

None of this anxiety is worth it. It will neither help you on Sunday nor is it helping you right now trying to gear up for the test.

There are a million ways to excel and be happy in life. Taking CAT is just one of those million ways. If it works out – great. If it doesn’t – you still have another million ways (minus one).

There are some great people I know who cracked the CAT. But there are many more really great people I know who have failed at CAT or have never even attempted it. Less than 0.017% of India takes the test. What is the big deal?

I know someone who ‘failed’ the CAT 4 times. He scored 99%ile+ 2 out of 4 times. He did not get a call for various reasons – sectional cutoff once, acads one other time. He ended up going to one of the world’s top business schools through GMAT and then got into the world’s most famous consulting firm.

There is someone else who couldn’t score even 80%ile in CAT but has bootstrapped his venture to 10 crores of revenue with a 50 member team.

So, the world is not going to end if Sunday doesn’t go as per plan. Relax. Don’t make the test or your performance in it as the centre of your life.

 

I am not saying stop preparing. I am not saying you should lose focus. I am not saying you should break your routine. You got to do what you got to do.

Do not throttle yourself by giving the test too much importance. Don’t let it bog you down. Don’t complicate.

Simplify. Simplify. Simplify.

Be free. Attempt the test fearlessly. Give it only as much respect as it deserves.

 

If you guys want to have a chat with me about MBA, CAT, exam anxiety, Football, Arsenal, Cricket, Politics or anything else I’m available for an hour long chat today evening from 6 pm to 7 pm here.

 

 

————-

About the Author:

Ankit Doshi – IIM Indore alumnus – Class of 2011 and Creator of InsideIIM.com & Konversations.com. Ankit scored 99.7 percentile in CAT 2008 after not cracking it in 2007. He is a commerce graduate and not an engineer.

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Star Sports’ Short-Sighted Football Broadcast Strategy In India

I got introduced to the Premier League because of friends. However, the reason I became a fan was because I could watch Premier League matches live on my TV. I was exposed to a world of entertainment and scintillating display of skill. The pre-match and post-match analysis was of high quality. The weekly shows on Football were educating and gave great insight into how the sport was run. The only way you develop an interest and convert it to a passion is if the content is available. When I look back I became a cricket fan as a child too because I could watch the Indian team travel across the world on TV. Access to experiencing the content was never a problem.

Unless you can watch matches regularly in a stadium, there is no other way you can recruit new fans to your product but through TV/Live Broadcast.

I am part of a 100 member sports group on WhatsApp. There are people trying to get others on the group interested in EPL. However, there is no way for the newbies to access this content. They just don’t know where to go and watch matches. Most of them have already given up as they can’t sample this ‘exciting’ thing called the Premier League. This is anecdotal evidence but I wouldn’t bet against many similar experiences across India really harming growth of EPL viewership in the country.

Unfortunately, Star Sports India’s strategy will harm growth of interest in English football and in the long run it will harm their own interests. Let’s take all issues one by one.

So, what is this new strategy? What is the problem?

I have subscribed to 8 Star Sports Channels – Star Sports 1,2,3,4 + Star Sports HD 1,2,3,4.  However, from October if I want to watch Premier League action, I need to mandatorily subscribe to Star Sports Select HD 1 and HD 2 channels. Now, subscribing to these 2 new channels will not guarantee coverage of all matches but you can be assured of being able to watch the big matches at least.

The other way you can get access to the action is if you subscribe to Hotstar at INR 200/- per month. You can watch all matches live on demand. This also means you get access to other premium content on hotstar but I am forced to take it even though I only want to watch the premier league. This option means tons of extra money I need to spend on internet data. It isn’t such a great deal if you ask me. You will consume at least up to 1 GB data on every match day.

Indians don’t like to pay for content

This is not entirely true. One could argue that Star is trying to maximise its revenue but I think they are pushing it too far. It is not that people are not paying for content. I am paying for 8 star channels already. Now, I need to pay for 2 more ‘premium’ channels. When will this end?

Also, it is not like the 8 channels I have subscribed to have world class live programming all the time. There are re-runs of matches and packaged cricket programming which is shown multiple times each week.

There is only so much viewers will take, Ultimately, they will just give up and not care. Highly passionate fans will find ways to watch what they want. Star Sports  is making watching live action legally as painful as watching something for free on an online stream.

Ok. So Star is greedy. What is your point about it affecting them in the long run? Why is this strategy short-sighted?

Football hasn’t reached a critical mass of viewers in India yet. They are killing the growth in its popularity even before it reaches its true potential. For context, look at this FIFA Television viewership report for World Cup 2014 in Brazil 2 years ago. The highest number of people to have watched any match at any point of time is 5 Million whereas the average viewership per match is 1.3 Mn. The total reach of the entire competition is 85 Million. A country like Indonesia (1/5th of India’s population) with a far worse time zone for live broadcast from Brazil reached 103 Million. On the other hand Cricket ICC T20 World cup was watched by 730 Million Indians. All these stats point to the ground football still has to cover in India and the massive potential it has.

India is one of the few markets where channels/broadcasters not only make money through Pay TV (Subscriptions) but also through advertising. The argument generally is that people pay too little per subscription so they need to monetise through ads as well. When HD programming was being promoted initially, one of the key features mentioned was ‘Ad-free programming’. Channels then started inserting 30 second ads. Then they became 90 seconds. Now, its exactly like the SD channels. So consumers pay extra for HD channels and still have to endure the advertising. Read this piece from 2012.

This mindset of continuously trying to exploit every possible way to make money out of the consumer is what will lead to their downfall. Apart from the bad PR that these issues generate (check protest Facebook pages, quora and petitions on change.org), what this is doing is restricting the growth of the popularity of the game. Unless you are born in a family that has access to HD TVs and has someone in the family who has also subscribed to Star Sports Select HD, you will never be introduced to Premier League Football. Unless I watch games as a kid on TV, how will I be interested in the game or the league? If I haven’t developed an interest why will I ever subscribe to this content?

PL football became popular in India for the following reasons :

  1. Time Zone : Weekend Afternoon in England is prime time in India.  So a 3 pm BST kickoff means a 7.30 pm or 8.30 pm match in India. La Liga matches are generally much later in the night and this is a big reason La Liga isn’t as big as EPL in India. It is also the reason NBA will find it tough to reach same popularity. Matches take place when kids are either sleeping or in school.
  2. Language : There is an historic comfort with everything English.
  3. Access: Access to Premier League action was always easy. It was easy for a newbie to be introduced to the game. 

It is this third reason which is critical. Football viewership needs to grow at a fast clip if Star Sports wants to make money (either through Pay TV or advertising). By restricting distribution they are bracing themselves up for pain in the future. Disgruntled fans will switch to free online streams. New additions to fan base should be as important as making money out of the present ones. The Premier League itself may not be too enthused if viewership in India does not grow fast enough. Clubs like Arsenal who look at India as their next market for expansion would not be too happy with these developments either. They will need young kids to be able to watch the Arsenal team in action for their fan base to grow. This Medium piece talks about how big the EPL is going to be in the coming years and even markets like USA haven’t been tapped fully yet.

I am sure they would have done their analysis before shifting PL entirely to Star Sports Select HD. The Star Sports CEO Nitin Kukreja (an IIM A alumnus) claimed on an interview to Sportskeeda that they are already in 7 Million homes. The assumption must be that everyone who watches EPL is from a background that fits the profile of these 7 Million homes. What is not clear though is why they need to add two new HD channels and charge for it and not use the existing 4 channels? There can’t be any other reason but to make additional money. I am also not entirely sure if they’ve weighed in the costs of not letting a fan base develop though. It is possible Star Sports thinks current fans will eventually give in and subscribe but I am not sure how they will attract more viewers with such a restriction in distribution and access.

The alternate view is that the number of EPL followers is so small that it doesn’t affect the overall viewership in a big way in the short run even if there are drop offs. Importantly, the additional money from ‘forced’ subscription of SS Select HD will cover up for the relative loss in viewers who won’t subscribe to it. This is in my view is a short-sighted approach to maximize revenue. A little bit like killing the golden goose that will lay the eggs.

Opportunity

Every situation is an opportunity. If Sony can get its act together it can really popularize the La Liga and Serie A. But the leagues need to take advantage of this situation. That India is the next frontier for football or sports in general is well known. Even if a fraction of India starts following a league or a sport it will break records in viewership. The popularity of Kabbadi League and Indian Soccer League is enough evidence that there is appetite for good sporting content (Star has been a big promoter of both these leagues!).

The other option is if Youtube, Facebook or Twitter can get exclusive rights of sports. NBA already has a deal with Twitter. Imagine if one could watch the EPL on Facebook or Youtube for free. All I need to pay for is the data. The reach will be massive – definitely more than the 7 Million HD homes Mr.Kukreja spoke about.


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I got introduced to the Premier League because of friends. However, the reason I became a fan was because I could watch Premier League matches live on my TV. I was exposed to a world of entertainment and scintillating display of skill. The pre-match and post-match analysis was of high quality. The weekly shows on Football were educating and gave great insight into how the sport was run. The only way you develop an interest and convert it to a passion is if the content is available. When I look back I became a cricket fan as a child too because I could watch the Indian team travel across the world on TV. Access to experiencing the content was never a problem.

Unless you can watch matches regularly in a stadium, there is no other way you can recruit new fans to your product but through TV/Live Broadcast.

I am part of a 100 member sports group on WhatsApp. There are people trying to get others on the group interested in EPL. However, there is no way for the newbies to access this content. They just don’t know where to go and watch matches. Most of them have already given up as they can’t sample this ‘exciting’ thing called the Premier League. This is anecdotal evidence but I wouldn’t bet against many similar experiences across India really harming growth of EPL viewership in the country.

Unfortunately, Star Sports India’s strategy will harm growth of interest in English football and in the long run it will harm their own interests. Let’s take all issues one by one.

So, what is this new strategy? What is the problem?

I have subscribed to 8 Star Sports Channels – Star Sports 1,2,3,4 + Star Sports HD 1,2,3,4.  However, from October if I want to watch Premier League action, I need to mandatorily subscribe to Star Sports Select HD 1 and HD 2 channels. Now, subscribing to these 2 new channels will not guarantee coverage of all matches but you can be assured of being able to watch the big matches at least.

The other way you can get access to the action is if you subscribe to Hotstar at INR 200/- per month. You can watch all matches live on demand. This also means you get access to other premium content on hotstar but I am forced to take it even though I only want to watch the premier league. This option means tons of extra money I need to spend on internet data. It isn’t such a great deal if you ask me. You will consume at least up to 1 GB data on every match day.

Indians don’t like to pay for content

This is not entirely true. One could argue that Star is trying to maximise its revenue but I think they are pushing it too far. It is not that people are not paying for content. I am paying for 8 star channels already. Now, I need to pay for 2 more ‘premium’ channels. When will this end?

Also, it is not like the 8 channels I have subscribed to have world class live programming all the time. There are re-runs of matches and packaged cricket programming which is shown multiple times each week.

There is only so much viewers will take, Ultimately, they will just give up and not care. Highly passionate fans will find ways to watch what they want. Star Sports  is making watching live action legally as painful as watching something for free on an online stream.

Ok. So Star is greedy. What is your point about it affecting them in the long run? Why is this strategy short-sighted?

Football hasn’t reached a critical mass of viewers in India yet. They are killing the growth in its popularity even before it reaches its true potential. For context, look at this FIFA Television viewership report for World Cup 2014 in Brazil 2 years ago. The highest number of people to have watched any match at any point of time is 5 Million whereas the average viewership per match is 1.3 Mn. The total reach of the entire competition is 85 Million. A country like Indonesia (1/5th of India’s population) with a far worse time zone for live broadcast from Brazil reached 103 Million. On the other hand Cricket ICC T20 World cup was watched by 730 Million Indians. All these stats point to the ground football still has to cover in India and the massive potential it has.

India is one of the few markets where channels/broadcasters not only make money through Pay TV (Subscriptions) but also through advertising. The argument generally is that people pay too little per subscription so they need to monetise through ads as well. When HD programming was being promoted initially, one of the key features mentioned was ‘Ad-free programming’. Channels then started inserting 30 second ads. Then they became 90 seconds. Now, its exactly like the SD channels. So consumers pay extra for HD channels and still have to endure the advertising. Read this piece from 2012.

This mindset of continuously trying to exploit every possible way to make money out of the consumer is what will lead to their downfall. Apart from the bad PR that these issues generate (check protest Facebook pages, quora and petitions on change.org), what this is doing is restricting the growth of the popularity of the game. Unless you are born in a family that has access to HD TVs and has someone in the family who has also subscribed to Star Sports Select HD, you will never be introduced to Premier League Football. Unless I watch games as a kid on TV, how will I be interested in the game or the league? If I haven’t developed an interest why will I ever subscribe to this content?

PL football became popular in India for the following reasons :

  1. Time Zone : Weekend Afternoon in England is prime time in India.  So a 3 pm BST kickoff means a 7.30 pm or 8.30 pm match in India. La Liga matches are generally much later in the night and this is a big reason La Liga isn’t as big as EPL in India. It is also the reason NBA will find it tough to reach same popularity. Matches take place when kids are either sleeping or in school.
  2. Language : There is an historic comfort with everything English.
  3. Access: Access to Premier League action was always easy. It was easy for a newbie to be introduced to the game. 

It is this third reason which is critical. Football viewership needs to grow at a fast clip if Star Sports wants to make money (either through Pay TV or advertising). By restricting distribution they are bracing themselves up for pain in the future. Disgruntled fans will switch to free online streams. New additions to fan base should be as important as making money out of the present ones. The Premier League itself may not be too enthused if viewership in India does not grow fast enough. Clubs like Arsenal who look at India as their next market for expansion would not be too happy with these developments either. They will need young kids to be able to watch the Arsenal team in action for their fan base to grow. This Medium piece talks about how big the EPL is going to be in the coming years and even markets like USA haven’t been tapped fully yet.

I am sure they would have done their analysis before shifting PL entirely to Star Sports Select HD. The Star Sports CEO Nitin Kukreja (an IIM A alumnus) claimed on an interview to Sportskeeda that they are already in 7 Million homes. The assumption must be that everyone who watches EPL is from a background that fits the profile of these 7 Million homes. What is not clear though is why they need to add two new HD channels and charge for it and not use the existing 4 channels? There can’t be any other reason but to make additional money. I am also not entirely sure if they’ve weighed in the costs of not letting a fan base develop though. It is possible Star Sports thinks current fans will eventually give in and subscribe but I am not sure how they will attract more viewers with such a restriction in distribution and access.

The alternate view is that the number of EPL followers is so small that it doesn’t affect the overall viewership in a big way in the short run even if there are drop offs. Importantly, the additional money from ‘forced’ subscription of SS Select HD will cover up for the relative loss in viewers who won’t subscribe to it. This is in my view is a short-sighted approach to maximize revenue. A little bit like killing the golden goose that will lay the eggs.

Opportunity

Every situation is an opportunity. If Sony can get its act together it can really popularize the La Liga and Serie A. But the leagues need to take advantage of this situation. That India is the next frontier for football or sports in general is well known. Even if a fraction of India starts following a league or a sport it will break records in viewership. The popularity of Kabbadi League and Indian Soccer League is enough evidence that there is appetite for good sporting content (Star has been a big promoter of both these leagues!).

The other option is if Youtube, Facebook or Twitter can get exclusive rights of sports. NBA already has a deal with Twitter. Imagine if one could watch the EPL on Facebook or Youtube for free. All I need to pay for is the data. The reach will be massive – definitely more than the 7 Million HD homes Mr.Kukreja spoke about.


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I got introduced to the Premier League because of friends. However, the reason I became a fan was because I could watch Premier League matches live on my TV. I was exposed to a world of entertainment and scintillating display of skill. The pre-match and post-match analysis was of high quality. The weekly shows on Football were educating and gave great insight into how the sport was run. The only way you develop an interest and convert it to a passion is if the content is available. When I look back I became a cricket fan as a child too because I could watch the Indian team travel across the world on TV. Access to experiencing the content was never a problem.

Unless you can watch matches regularly in a stadium, there is no other way you can recruit new fans to your product but through TV/Live Broadcast.

I am part of a 100 member sports group on WhatsApp. There are people trying to get others on the group interested in EPL. However, there is no way for the newbies to access this content. They just don’t know where to go and watch matches. Most of them have already given up as they can’t sample this ‘exciting’ thing called the Premier League. This is anecdotal evidence but I wouldn’t bet against many similar experiences across India really harming growth of EPL viewership in the country.

Unfortunately, Star Sports India’s strategy will harm growth of interest in English football and in the long run it will harm their own interests. Let’s take all issues one by one.

So, what is this new strategy? What is the problem?

I have subscribed to 8 Star Sports Channels – Star Sports 1,2,3,4 + Star Sports HD 1,2,3,4.  However, from October if I want to watch Premier League action, I need to mandatorily subscribe to Star Sports Select HD 1 and HD 2 channels. Now, subscribing to these 2 new channels will not guarantee coverage of all matches but you can be assured of being able to watch the big matches at least.

The other way you can get access to the action is if you subscribe to Hotstar at INR 200/- per month. You can watch all matches live on demand. This also means you get access to other premium content on hotstar but I am forced to take it even though I only want to watch the premier league. This option means tons of extra money I need to spend on internet data. It isn’t such a great deal if you ask me. You will consume at least up to 1 GB data on every match day.

Indians don’t like to pay for content

This is not entirely true. One could argue that Star is trying to maximise its revenue but I think they are pushing it too far. It is not that people are not paying for content. I am paying for 8 star channels already. Now, I need to pay for 2 more ‘premium’ channels. When will this end?

Also, it is not like the 8 channels I have subscribed to have world class live programming all the time. There are re-runs of matches and packaged cricket programming which is shown multiple times each week.

There is only so much viewers will take, Ultimately, they will just give up and not care. Highly passionate fans will find ways to watch what they want. Star Sports  is making watching live action legally as painful as watching something for free on an online stream.

Ok. So Star is greedy. What is your point about it affecting them in the long run? Why is this strategy short-sighted?

Football hasn’t reached a critical mass of viewers in India yet. They are killing the growth in its popularity even before it reaches its true potential. For context, look at this FIFA Television viewership report for World Cup 2014 in Brazil 2 years ago. The highest number of people to have watched any match at any point of time is 5 Million whereas the average viewership per match is 1.3 Mn. The total reach of the entire competition is 85 Million. A country like Indonesia (1/5th of India’s population) with a far worse time zone for live broadcast from Brazil reached 103 Million. On the other hand Cricket ICC T20 World cup was watched by 730 Million Indians. All these stats point to the ground football still has to cover in India and the massive potential it has.

India is one of the few markets where channels/broadcasters not only make money through Pay TV (Subscriptions) but also through advertising. The argument generally is that people pay too little per subscription so they need to monetise through ads as well. When HD programming was being promoted initially, one of the key features mentioned was ‘Ad-free programming’. Channels then started inserting 30 second ads. Then they became 90 seconds. Now, its exactly like the SD channels. So consumers pay extra for HD channels and still have to endure the advertising. Read this piece from 2012.

This mindset of continuously trying to exploit every possible way to make money out of the consumer is what will lead to their downfall. Apart from the bad PR that these issues generate (check protest Facebook pages, quora and petitions on change.org), what this is doing is restricting the growth of the popularity of the game. Unless you are born in a family that has access to HD TVs and has someone in the family who has also subscribed to Star Sports Select HD, you will never be introduced to Premier League Football. Unless I watch games as a kid on TV, how will I be interested in the game or the league? If I haven’t developed an interest why will I ever subscribe to this content?

PL football became popular in India for the following reasons :

  1. Time Zone : Weekend Afternoon in England is prime time in India.  So a 3 pm BST kickoff means a 7.30 pm or 8.30 pm match in India. La Liga matches are generally much later in the night and this is a big reason La Liga isn’t as big as EPL in India. It is also the reason NBA will find it tough to reach same popularity. Matches take place when kids are either sleeping or in school.
  2. Language : There is an historic comfort with everything English.
  3. Access: Access to Premier League action was always easy. It was easy for a newbie to be introduced to the game. 

It is this third reason which is critical. Football viewership needs to grow at a fast clip if Star Sports wants to make money (either through Pay TV or advertising). By restricting distribution they are bracing themselves up for pain in the future. Disgruntled fans will switch to free online streams. New additions to fan base should be as important as making money out of the present ones. The Premier League itself may not be too enthused if viewership in India does not grow fast enough. Clubs like Arsenal who look at India as their next market for expansion would not be too happy with these developments either. They will need young kids to be able to watch the Arsenal team in action for their fan base to grow. This Medium piece talks about how big the EPL is going to be in the coming years and even markets like USA haven’t been tapped fully yet.

I am sure they would have done their analysis before shifting PL entirely to Star Sports Select HD. The Star Sports CEO Nitin Kukreja (an IIM A alumnus) claimed on an interview to Sportskeeda that they are already in 7 Million homes. The assumption must be that everyone who watches EPL is from a background that fits the profile of these 7 Million homes. What is not clear though is why they need to add two new HD channels and charge for it and not use the existing 4 channels? There can’t be any other reason but to make additional money. I am also not entirely sure if they’ve weighed in the costs of not letting a fan base develop though. It is possible Star Sports thinks current fans will eventually give in and subscribe but I am not sure how they will attract more viewers with such a restriction in distribution and access.

The alternate view is that the number of EPL followers is so small that it doesn’t affect the overall viewership in a big way in the short run even if there are drop offs. Importantly, the additional money from ‘forced’ subscription of SS Select HD will cover up for the relative loss in viewers who won’t subscribe to it. This is in my view is a short-sighted approach to maximize revenue. A little bit like killing the golden goose that will lay the eggs.

Opportunity

Every situation is an opportunity. If Sony can get its act together it can really popularize the La Liga and Serie A. But the leagues need to take advantage of this situation. That India is the next frontier for football or sports in general is well known. Even if a fraction of India starts following a league or a sport it will break records in viewership. The popularity of Kabbadi League and Indian Soccer League is enough evidence that there is appetite for good sporting content (Star has been a big promoter of both these leagues!).

The other option is if Youtube, Facebook or Twitter can get exclusive rights of sports. NBA already has a deal with Twitter. Imagine if one could watch the EPL on Facebook or Youtube for free. All I need to pay for is the data. The reach will be massive – definitely more than the 7 Million HD homes Mr.Kukreja spoke about.


The author is the creator of this platform

Profile gravatar of Ankit Doshi

Ankit Doshi

Message Author


Message Author

I got introduced to the Premier League because of friends. However, the reason I became a fan was because I could watch Premier League matches live on my TV. I was exposed to a world of entertainment and scintillating display of skill. The pre-match and post-match analysis was of high quality. The weekly shows on Football were educating and gave great insight into how the sport was run. The only way you develop an interest and convert it to a passion is if the content is available. When I look back I became a cricket fan as a child too because I could watch the Indian team travel across the world on TV. Access to experiencing the content was never a problem.

Unless you can watch matches regularly in a stadium, there is no other way you can recruit new fans to your product but through TV/Live Broadcast.

I am part of a 100 member sports group on WhatsApp. There are people trying to get others on the group interested in EPL. However, there is no way for the newbies to access this content. They just don’t know where to go and watch matches. Most of them have already given up as they can’t sample this ‘exciting’ thing called the Premier League. This is anecdotal evidence but I wouldn’t bet against many similar experiences across India really harming growth of EPL viewership in the country.

Unfortunately, Star Sports India’s strategy will harm growth of interest in English football and in the long run it will harm their own interests. Let’s take all issues one by one.

So, what is this new strategy? What is the problem?

I have subscribed to 8 Star Sports Channels – Star Sports 1,2,3,4 + Star Sports HD 1,2,3,4.  However, from October if I want to watch Premier League action, I need to mandatorily subscribe to Star Sports Select HD 1 and HD 2 channels. Now, subscribing to these 2 new channels will not guarantee coverage of all matches but you can be assured of being able to watch the big matches at least.

The other way you can get access to the action is if you subscribe to Hotstar at INR 200/- per month. You can watch all matches live on demand. This also means you get access to other premium content on hotstar but I am forced to take it even though I only want to watch the premier league. This option means tons of extra money I need to spend on internet data. It isn’t such a great deal if you ask me. You will consume at least up to 1 GB data on every match day.

Indians don’t like to pay for content

This is not entirely true. One could argue that Star is trying to maximise its revenue but I think they are pushing it too far. It is not that people are not paying for content. I am paying for 8 star channels already. Now, I need to pay for 2 more ‘premium’ channels. When will this end?

Also, it is not like the 8 channels I have subscribed to have world class live programming all the time. There are re-runs of matches and packaged cricket programming which is shown multiple times each week.

There is only so much viewers will take, Ultimately, they will just give up and not care. Highly passionate fans will find ways to watch what they want. Star Sports  is making watching live action legally as painful as watching something for free on an online stream.

Ok. So Star is greedy. What is your point about it affecting them in the long run? Why is this strategy short-sighted?

Football hasn’t reached a critical mass of viewers in India yet. They are killing the growth in its popularity even before it reaches its true potential. For context, look at this FIFA Television viewership report for World Cup 2014 in Brazil 2 years ago. The highest number of people to have watched any match at any point of time is 5 Million whereas the average viewership per match is 1.3 Mn. The total reach of the entire competition is 85 Million. A country like Indonesia (1/5th of India’s population) with a far worse time zone for live broadcast from Brazil reached 103 Million. On the other hand Cricket ICC T20 World cup was watched by 730 Million Indians. All these stats point to the ground football still has to cover in India and the massive potential it has.

India is one of the few markets where channels/broadcasters not only make money through Pay TV (Subscriptions) but also through advertising. The argument generally is that people pay too little per subscription so they need to monetise through ads as well. When HD programming was being promoted initially, one of the key features mentioned was ‘Ad-free programming’. Channels then started inserting 30 second ads. Then they became 90 seconds. Now, its exactly like the SD channels. So consumers pay extra for HD channels and still have to endure the advertising. Read this piece from 2012.

This mindset of continuously trying to exploit every possible way to make money out of the consumer is what will lead to their downfall. Apart from the bad PR that these issues generate (check protest Facebook pages, quora and petitions on change.org), what this is doing is restricting the growth of the popularity of the game. Unless you are born in a family that has access to HD TVs and has someone in the family who has also subscribed to Star Sports Select HD, you will never be introduced to Premier League Football. Unless I watch games as a kid on TV, how will I be interested in the game or the league? If I haven’t developed an interest why will I ever subscribe to this content?

PL football became popular in India for the following reasons :

  1. Time Zone : Weekend Afternoon in England is prime time in India.  So a 3 pm BST kickoff means a 7.30 pm or 8.30 pm match in India. La Liga matches are generally much later in the night and this is a big reason La Liga isn’t as big as EPL in India. It is also the reason NBA will find it tough to reach same popularity. Matches take place when kids are either sleeping or in school.
  2. Language : There is an historic comfort with everything English.
  3. Access: Access to Premier League action was always easy. It was easy for a newbie to be introduced to the game. 

It is this third reason which is critical. Football viewership needs to grow at a fast clip if Star Sports wants to make money (either through Pay TV or advertising). By restricting distribution they are bracing themselves up for pain in the future. Disgruntled fans will switch to free online streams. New additions to fan base should be as important as making money out of the present ones. The Premier League itself may not be too enthused if viewership in India does not grow fast enough. Clubs like Arsenal who look at India as their next market for expansion would not be too happy with these developments either. They will need young kids to be able to watch the Arsenal team in action for their fan base to grow. This Medium piece talks about how big the EPL is going to be in the coming years and even markets like USA haven’t been tapped fully yet.

I am sure they would have done their analysis before shifting PL entirely to Star Sports Select HD. The Star Sports CEO Nitin Kukreja (an IIM A alumnus) claimed on an interview to Sportskeeda that they are already in 7 Million homes. The assumption must be that everyone who watches EPL is from a background that fits the profile of these 7 Million homes. What is not clear though is why they need to add two new HD channels and charge for it and not use the existing 4 channels? There can’t be any other reason but to make additional money. I am also not entirely sure if they’ve weighed in the costs of not letting a fan base develop though. It is possible Star Sports thinks current fans will eventually give in and subscribe but I am not sure how they will attract more viewers with such a restriction in distribution and access.

The alternate view is that the number of EPL followers is so small that it doesn’t affect the overall viewership in a big way in the short run even if there are drop offs. Importantly, the additional money from ‘forced’ subscription of SS Select HD will cover up for the relative loss in viewers who won’t subscribe to it. This is in my view is a short-sighted approach to maximize revenue. A little bit like killing the golden goose that will lay the eggs.

Opportunity

Every situation is an opportunity. If Sony can get its act together it can really popularize the La Liga and Serie A. But the leagues need to take advantage of this situation. That India is the next frontier for football or sports in general is well known. Even if a fraction of India starts following a league or a sport it will break records in viewership. The popularity of Kabbadi League and Indian Soccer League is enough evidence that there is appetite for good sporting content (Star has been a big promoter of both these leagues!).

The other option is if Youtube, Facebook or Twitter can get exclusive rights of sports. NBA already has a deal with Twitter. Imagine if one could watch the EPL on Facebook or Youtube for free. All I need to pay for is the data. The reach will be massive – definitely more than the 7 Million HD homes Mr.Kukreja spoke about.


The author is the creator of this platform

Profile gravatar of Ankit Doshi

Ankit Doshi

Message Author


Message Author

I got introduced to the Premier League because of friends. However, the reason I became a fan was because I could watch Premier League matches live on my TV. I was exposed to a world of entertainment and scintillating display of skill. The pre-match and post-match analysis was of high quality. The weekly shows on Football were educating and gave great insight into how the sport was run. The only way you develop an interest and convert it to a passion is if the content is available. When I look back I became a cricket fan as a child too because I could watch the Indian team travel across the world on TV. Access to experiencing the content was never a problem.

Unless you can watch matches regularly in a stadium, there is no other way you can recruit new fans to your product but through TV/Live Broadcast.

I am part of a 100 member sports group on WhatsApp. There are people trying to get others on the group interested in EPL. However, there is no way for the newbies to access this content. They just don’t know where to go and watch matches. Most of them have already given up as they can’t sample this ‘exciting’ thing called the Premier League. This is anecdotal evidence but I wouldn’t bet against many similar experiences across India really harming growth of EPL viewership in the country.

Unfortunately, Star Sports India’s strategy will harm growth of interest in English football and in the long run it will harm their own interests. Let’s take all issues one by one.

So, what is this new strategy? What is the problem?

I have subscribed to 8 Star Sports Channels – Star Sports 1,2,3,4 + Star Sports HD 1,2,3,4.  However, from October if I want to watch Premier League action, I need to mandatorily subscribe to Star Sports Select HD 1 and HD 2 channels. Now, subscribing to these 2 new channels will not guarantee coverage of all matches but you can be assured of being able to watch the big matches at least.

The other way you can get access to the action is if you subscribe to Hotstar at INR 200/- per month. You can watch all matches live on demand. This also means you get access to other premium content on hotstar but I am forced to take it even though I only want to watch the premier league. This option means tons of extra money I need to spend on internet data. It isn’t such a great deal if you ask me. You will consume at least up to 1 GB data on every match day.

Indians don’t like to pay for content

This is not entirely true. One could argue that Star is trying to maximise its revenue but I think they are pushing it too far. It is not that people are not paying for content. I am paying for 8 star channels already. Now, I need to pay for 2 more ‘premium’ channels. When will this end?

Also, it is not like the 8 channels I have subscribed to have world class live programming all the time. There are re-runs of matches and packaged cricket programming which is shown multiple times each week.

There is only so much viewers will take, Ultimately, they will just give up and not care. Highly passionate fans will find ways to watch what they want. Star Sports  is making watching live action legally as painful as watching something for free on an online stream.

Ok. So Star is greedy. What is your point about it affecting them in the long run? Why is this strategy short-sighted?

Football hasn’t reached a critical mass of viewers in India yet. They are killing the growth in its popularity even before it reaches its true potential. For context, look at this FIFA Television viewership report for World Cup 2014 in Brazil 2 years ago. The highest number of people to have watched any match at any point of time is 5 Million whereas the average viewership per match is 1.3 Mn. The total reach of the entire competition is 85 Million. A country like Indonesia (1/5th of India’s population) with a far worse time zone for live broadcast from Brazil reached 103 Million. On the other hand Cricket ICC T20 World cup was watched by 730 Million Indians. All these stats point to the ground football still has to cover in India and the massive potential it has.

India is one of the few markets where channels/broadcasters not only make money through Pay TV (Subscriptions) but also through advertising. The argument generally is that people pay too little per subscription so they need to monetise through ads as well. When HD programming was being promoted initially, one of the key features mentioned was ‘Ad-free programming’. Channels then started inserting 30 second ads. Then they became 90 seconds. Now, its exactly like the SD channels. So consumers pay extra for HD channels and still have to endure the advertising. Read this piece from 2012.

This mindset of continuously trying to exploit every possible way to make money out of the consumer is what will lead to their downfall. Apart from the bad PR that these issues generate (check protest Facebook pages, quora and petitions on change.org), what this is doing is restricting the growth of the popularity of the game. Unless you are born in a family that has access to HD TVs and has someone in the family who has also subscribed to Star Sports Select HD, you will never be introduced to Premier League Football. Unless I watch games as a kid on TV, how will I be interested in the game or the league? If I haven’t developed an interest why will I ever subscribe to this content?

PL football became popular in India for the following reasons :

  1. Time Zone : Weekend Afternoon in England is prime time in India.  So a 3 pm BST kickoff means a 7.30 pm or 8.30 pm match in India. La Liga matches are generally much later in the night and this is a big reason La Liga isn’t as big as EPL in India. It is also the reason NBA will find it tough to reach same popularity. Matches take place when kids are either sleeping or in school.
  2. Language : There is an historic comfort with everything English.
  3. Access: Access to Premier League action was always easy. It was easy for a newbie to be introduced to the game. 

It is this third reason which is critical. Football viewership needs to grow at a fast clip if Star Sports wants to make money (either through Pay TV or advertising). By restricting distribution they are bracing themselves up for pain in the future. Disgruntled fans will switch to free online streams. New additions to fan base should be as important as making money out of the present ones. The Premier League itself may not be too enthused if viewership in India does not grow fast enough. Clubs like Arsenal who look at India as their next market for expansion would not be too happy with these developments either. They will need young kids to be able to watch the Arsenal team in action for their fan base to grow. This Medium piece talks about how big the EPL is going to be in the coming years and even markets like USA haven’t been tapped fully yet.

I am sure they would have done their analysis before shifting PL entirely to Star Sports Select HD. The Star Sports CEO Nitin Kukreja (an IIM A alumnus) claimed on an interview to Sportskeeda that they are already in 7 Million homes. The assumption must be that everyone who watches EPL is from a background that fits the profile of these 7 Million homes. What is not clear though is why they need to add two new HD channels and charge for it and not use the existing 4 channels? There can’t be any other reason but to make additional money. I am also not entirely sure if they’ve weighed in the costs of not letting a fan base develop though. It is possible Star Sports thinks current fans will eventually give in and subscribe but I am not sure how they will attract more viewers with such a restriction in distribution and access.

The alternate view is that the number of EPL followers is so small that it doesn’t affect the overall viewership in a big way in the short run even if there are drop offs. Importantly, the additional money from ‘forced’ subscription of SS Select HD will cover up for the relative loss in viewers who won’t subscribe to it. This is in my view is a short-sighted approach to maximize revenue. A little bit like killing the golden goose that will lay the eggs.

Opportunity

Every situation is an opportunity. If Sony can get its act together it can really popularize the La Liga and Serie A. But the leagues need to take advantage of this situation. That India is the next frontier for football or sports in general is well known. Even if a fraction of India starts following a league or a sport it will break records in viewership. The popularity of Kabbadi League and Indian Soccer League is enough evidence that there is appetite for good sporting content (Star has been a big promoter of both these leagues!).

The other option is if Youtube, Facebook or Twitter can get exclusive rights of sports. NBA already has a deal with Twitter. Imagine if one could watch the EPL on Facebook or Youtube for free. All I need to pay for is the data. The reach will be massive – definitely more than the 7 Million HD homes Mr.Kukreja spoke about.


The author is the creator of this platform

Profile gravatar of Ankit Doshi

Ankit Doshi

Message Author


Message Author

I got introduced to the Premier League because of friends. However, the reason I became a fan was because I could watch Premier League matches live on my TV. I was exposed to a world of entertainment and scintillating display of skill. The pre-match and post-match analysis was of high quality. The weekly shows on Football were educating and gave great insight into how the sport was run. The only way you develop an interest and convert it to a passion is if the content is available. When I look back I became a cricket fan as a child too because I could watch the Indian team travel across the world on TV. Access to experiencing the content was never a problem.

Unless you can watch matches regularly in a stadium, there is no other way you can recruit new fans to your product but through TV/Live Broadcast.

I am part of a 100 member sports group on WhatsApp. There are people trying to get others on the group interested in EPL. However, there is no way for the newbies to access this content. They just don’t know where to go and watch matches. Most of them have already given up as they can’t sample this ‘exciting’ thing called the Premier League. This is anecdotal evidence but I wouldn’t bet against many similar experiences across India really harming growth of EPL viewership in the country.

Unfortunately, Star Sports India’s strategy will harm growth of interest in English football and in the long run it will harm their own interests. Let’s take all issues one by one.

So, what is this new strategy? What is the problem?

I have subscribed to 8 Star Sports Channels – Star Sports 1,2,3,4 + Star Sports HD 1,2,3,4.  However, from October if I want to watch Premier League action, I need to mandatorily subscribe to Star Sports Select HD 1 and HD 2 channels. Now, subscribing to these 2 new channels will not guarantee coverage of all matches but you can be assured of being able to watch the big matches at least.

The other way you can get access to the action is if you subscribe to Hotstar at INR 200/- per month. You can watch all matches live on demand. This also means you get access to other premium content on hotstar but I am forced to take it even though I only want to watch the premier league. This option means tons of extra money I need to spend on internet data. It isn’t such a great deal if you ask me. You will consume at least up to 1 GB data on every match day.

Indians don’t like to pay for content

This is not entirely true. One could argue that Star is trying to maximise its revenue but I think they are pushing it too far. It is not that people are not paying for content. I am paying for 8 star channels already. Now, I need to pay for 2 more ‘premium’ channels. When will this end?

Also, it is not like the 8 channels I have subscribed to have world class live programming all the time. There are re-runs of matches and packaged cricket programming which is shown multiple times each week.

There is only so much viewers will take, Ultimately, they will just give up and not care. Highly passionate fans will find ways to watch what they want. Star Sports  is making watching live action legally as painful as watching something for free on an online stream.

Ok. So Star is greedy. What is your point about it affecting them in the long run? Why is this strategy short-sighted?

Football hasn’t reached a critical mass of viewers in India yet. They are killing the growth in its popularity even before it reaches its true potential. For context, look at this FIFA Television viewership report for World Cup 2014 in Brazil 2 years ago. The highest number of people to have watched any match at any point of time is 5 Million whereas the average viewership per match is 1.3 Mn. The total reach of the entire competition is 85 Million. A country like Indonesia (1/5th of India’s population) with a far worse time zone for live broadcast from Brazil reached 103 Million. On the other hand Cricket ICC T20 World cup was watched by 730 Million Indians. All these stats point to the ground football still has to cover in India and the massive potential it has.

India is one of the few markets where channels/broadcasters not only make money through Pay TV (Subscriptions) but also through advertising. The argument generally is that people pay too little per subscription so they need to monetise through ads as well. When HD programming was being promoted initially, one of the key features mentioned was ‘Ad-free programming’. Channels then started inserting 30 second ads. Then they became 90 seconds. Now, its exactly like the SD channels. So consumers pay extra for HD channels and still have to endure the advertising. Read this piece from 2012.

This mindset of continuously trying to exploit every possible way to make money out of the consumer is what will lead to their downfall. Apart from the bad PR that these issues generate (check protest Facebook pages, quora and petitions on change.org), what this is doing is restricting the growth of the popularity of the game. Unless you are born in a family that has access to HD TVs and has someone in the family who has also subscribed to Star Sports Select HD, you will never be introduced to Premier League Football. Unless I watch games as a kid on TV, how will I be interested in the game or the league? If I haven’t developed an interest why will I ever subscribe to this content?

PL football became popular in India for the following reasons :

  1. Time Zone : Weekend Afternoon in England is prime time in India.  So a 3 pm BST kickoff means a 7.30 pm or 8.30 pm match in India. La Liga matches are generally much later in the night and this is a big reason La Liga isn’t as big as EPL in India. It is also the reason NBA will find it tough to reach same popularity. Matches take place when kids are either sleeping or in school.
  2. Language : There is an historic comfort with everything English.
  3. Access: Access to Premier League action was always easy. It was easy for a newbie to be introduced to the game. 

It is this third reason which is critical. Football viewership needs to grow at a fast clip if Star Sports wants to make money (either through Pay TV or advertising). By restricting distribution they are bracing themselves up for pain in the future. Disgruntled fans will switch to free online streams. New additions to fan base should be as important as making money out of the present ones. The Premier League itself may not be too enthused if viewership in India does not grow fast enough. Clubs like Arsenal who look at India as their next market for expansion would not be too happy with these developments either. They will need young kids to be able to watch the Arsenal team in action for their fan base to grow. This Medium piece talks about how big the EPL is going to be in the coming years and even markets like USA haven’t been tapped fully yet.

I am sure they would have done their analysis before shifting PL entirely to Star Sports Select HD. The Star Sports CEO Nitin Kukreja (an IIM A alumnus) claimed on an interview to Sportskeeda that they are already in 7 Million homes. The assumption must be that everyone who watches EPL is from a background that fits the profile of these 7 Million homes. What is not clear though is why they need to add two new HD channels and charge for it and not use the existing 4 channels? There can’t be any other reason but to make additional money. I am also not entirely sure if they’ve weighed in the costs of not letting a fan base develop though. It is possible Star Sports thinks current fans will eventually give in and subscribe but I am not sure how they will attract more viewers with such a restriction in distribution and access.

The alternate view is that the number of EPL followers is so small that it doesn’t affect the overall viewership in a big way in the short run even if there are drop offs. Importantly, the additional money from ‘forced’ subscription of SS Select HD will cover up for the relative loss in viewers who won’t subscribe to it. This is in my view is a short-sighted approach to maximize revenue. A little bit like killing the golden goose that will lay the eggs.

Opportunity

Every situation is an opportunity. If Sony can get its act together it can really popularize the La Liga and Serie A. But the leagues need to take advantage of this situation. That India is the next frontier for football or sports in general is well known. Even if a fraction of India starts following a league or a sport it will break records in viewership. The popularity of Kabbadi League and Indian Soccer League is enough evidence that there is appetite for good sporting content (Star has been a big promoter of both these leagues!).

The other option is if Youtube, Facebook or Twitter can get exclusive rights of sports. NBA already has a deal with Twitter. Imagine if one could watch the EPL on Facebook or Youtube for free. All I need to pay for is the data. The reach will be massive – definitely more than the 7 Million HD homes Mr.Kukreja spoke about.


The author is the creator of this platform

Profile gravatar of Ankit Doshi

Ankit Doshi

Message Author