IIM Grad? Have an IIM call? Show some humility.

 

I am an IIM alumnus and what I write below applies to me as well.

If you have an interview call from the IIMs, thank god or whatever supreme power you believe in and get on with it. If you believe that just because you are an IIM grad you are superior allow me to burst your bubble.

Perspective

The total population of India is 1.2 Billion (120 Crore). Even if I assume 100,000 unique people took the CAT each year over the last 10 years, that still amounts to 1 Million people. Now that is less than 0.1% of the population in the country. It would be foolish to be proud of doing well in an exam which over 10 years not even 0.1% of this country’s people have attempted!  You have not even competed with 99.99% of the country’s population. So all your jingoism about we are the best brains in the country etc. should be washed away in your kitchen sink. There are millions of children who were born in the same year as you were born but never got to go to school. Many dropped out after Class IV. Many more dropped out after high school. A miniscule of those graduated from college which is the minimum qualification to even take the CAT. Teach for India has a great presentation on this.

(P.S – Three people have written to me saying comparing CAT takers with whole of India is not fair. Compare with age group only. OK. As per UNICEF 26 Million people are born in India each year. I will take people 3 years older and 3 years younger as the sample that can compete with you. That is 182 Million people and not 1.2 Billion. Your percentage jumps to 0.55% of the sample. Happy?)

Let me add another angle to this. Most people who take the CAT are people who have access to the English language in their formative years. Take away English and you won’t be able to understand a single question. Only 20 Million children in India were in English medium schools in the country as of March 2012 according to NUEPA (National University of Educational Planning and Administration). That is 2% of India’s population. This figure in 2003-04 was less than 8 Million (Less than 1% of India’s population then). If we look at the whole country as per 2001 Census, less than 120 Million (12 Crores) people in this country claim to know English. This is people who treat English as their 1st,2nd or 3rd language. Does knowing English make you a better manager? If the CAT were in vernacular languages, most of you would not have even a 80%ile ranking score. The raw talent of millions in the small towns and villages in this country will blow you away. Our preference to English as a mode of business communication has blocked the progress of millions of our countrymen and women.

You are where you are only because you were born in the right family.  The fact that you got the opportunity to go to a school. The fact that you had exposure to the English language. You can’t even claim credit for having chosen this path for yourself. Even Lord Krishna could not choose where his upbringing took place so it is unlikely you were a special child who had figured out career choices as a 3 year old.

Selection Criteria

Call getters are lucky. Plain lucky. What are you so proud of? The fact that normalization of your SSC/HSC/Grad marks went your way ? Or that you were born in a state where scoring 80% was easier than in other states? Or that the CAT difficulty level normalization across slots favoured your slot? Or that you are a woman and hence you got extra points? Or that you have a certificate that ensures the bar is set lower for your entry? Be honest. The selection criteria favoured you. Deep in your heart you know that equally deserving candidates lost out for no real fault of theirs.

A lot of people I know have ‘spectacular’ academic records because they could memorize stuff better and vomit it in the exam. Evaluation is done in the most improper way across India. Students can get penalized if the paper checker didn’t get his tea on time or if the fan above her wasn’t working in the month of May. Sometimes office boys are asked to check board exam papers. I have personally seen people checking papers in crowded Mumbai local trains. I was once asked to write at least 15 lines per answer even if it didn’t make sense because I was told they measure length before awarding you marks.

So while I respect your consistent academic record, I really don’t see how the ones who didn’t do well in these farcical exams are any less. A lot many of them were learning skills that will end up helping their family or even the nation much more while you spent your childhood memorizing text books from start to end.

Even when people receive their final admits, you know that it is not a 100% fair selection. Personal biases and prejudices of interviewers (who are imperfect people) kick in. Some professors will favour candidates from their state. Some will be biased against the rich. Some will be biased against the poor.

Conclusion

So what’s the point of all this? Am I undermining your hard work over the years? Am I giving an easy escape route (sour grapes) to all those who didn’t work hard and hence failed?  No. The purpose of this piece is to remind ourselves that we are fortunate to get this opportunity. Let us know very well that getting admitted in a higher ‘ranked’ institution or bagging a job in a sought after company was equally a matter of  chance. The hubris should go. Rather than treating this as an achievement, you are better off treating it as a responsibility. There are deserving people out there who didn’t get the option to graduate from these premier institutions.  There is a lot one can do with the help of this platform. One may not always be in a position to give back to the society, community or the nation. The least we can do is be humble.

– Ankit Doshi

 

The writer is the founder of this website, an IIM grad and most recently a banker. He now runs KiRa9 Edumedia Pvt Ltd. which owns InsideIIM.com. He is consumed by the thought of democratizing access to quality management education.

 

Other articles by Ankit Doshi

 

Read this Warning to All IIM Aspirants

 

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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.


The author is the creator of this platform

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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


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.


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Ankit Doshi

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