Star Sports, the sports channel under the Star India, will be providing a dual audio fed for this year’s Barclay’s Premier League matches. Starting August 17, digital/DTH viewers will have the choice of choosing which language they want to hear the commentary to the live soccer matches. The broadcaster has made this move in order to expand its non-cricket offerings to the vast Hindi speaking audience of the country. The basic idea is to broad base consumption of BPL and soccer in the country. To start with, 2 select matches every week will be broadcast in Hindi as well as English. The channel targets to telecast close to 100 live matches with Hindi commentary in the 2013-2014 season. Vijay Rajput, Chief Operating Officer, ESPN Software India Pvt Ltd explains, “We want to build culture of developing sports that people have grown up with.
The idea is to create a portfolio of various sporting disciplines with in-depth programming in each of the categories. This will help expand the sports viewing fan base and help in creating habitual viewing amongst sports consumers.” In addition to providing a Hindi audio feed, the channel will also have non-live programming around the BPL during the week. This will include build-up shows, reviews and match analysis shows. Rajput adds, “We have identified UK based commentators of Indian origin who will call the matches in Hindi for BPL. For viewers to understand the nuances of soccer and the league itself, we feel it is important to explain the live action in a language and idiom which is clearly understandable to one and all.” According to research provided by the broadcaster, India has about 125 million people who speak English as compared to 400 million viewers who understand Hindi. In this regard, Star Sports believes that the focus on English commentary/graphics by sports broadcasters till date has been a big deterrent in the growth in viewership. “We believe that if you want people to consume a lot of content, you should offer it to them in their language of comfort,” reiterates Rajput. In soccer, STAR Sports channels hold broadcast rights for Barclays Premier League, Spanish La Liga, Italian Serie A, the English FA Cup and England international matches and AFC Events. The sports broadcaster recently showcased Confederations Cup 2013.