Cricket and the Growth of Sports Live Streaming in India


Sports viewers have been instrumental in the growth in popularity of live streaming in Indian culture in recent years. They have shown that not only do they have an appetite for watching sports content, they are also willing to pay for the privilege.

It was back in 2017 when STAR India first acquired the five-year TV and digital rights to the Indian Premier League (IPL). There was a certain amount of dismay at the time. However, STAR’s investment has been proven to be a wise one.

How STAR silenced the critics

Just 12 months after STAR purchased the IPL rights, its Hotstar live streaming service was already accounting for 22% of its overall viewing figures of 700 million. The IPL viewing figures have continued to grow year-on-year ever since.

This appetite for sport live streaming is not entirely surprising. There has been a general growth in live streaming across the world. For instance, many of the most well-known casino game providers now provide live-streamed play online. In the case of sport live streaming on Hotstar, this growth has happened despite IPL coverage being behind the paywall after the first ten minutes of each match.

Challenges to Hotstar in India

It’s clear that there is an appetite for sports live streaming in India, and Hotstar seems to be the winning provider right now. It has an advantage when compared with live streaming providers like Netflix, Amazon Prime and JioTV due to its concentration on the sporting arena.

In fact, the only live streaming platform that seems likely to threaten the dominance of Hotstar is SonyLIV which is owned by Sony Pictures Network (SPN). They have the rights to stream India’s international matches in South Africa, England, and Australia. They also provide other sports-related live streams such as the Australian Open and WWE.

SonyLiv is growing in much the same way as Hotstar has. During 2018, it experienced record numbers of subscriptions. This means that SonyLiv is definitely a real contender when it comes to potentially unsettle the dominance of Hotstar in the realm of live streaming cricket and other sports.

In summary

It remains to be seen whether the dominance of Hotstar will be interrupted in the future. What is certain is that the growth of the live streaming sport in India is not going to subside anytime soon. There are already 40 video streaming apps on the market some of which will undoubtedly grow in popularity faster than others.

This can only be good news for cricket fans in the country, as well as those who prefer other live streamed sports. They will continue to have access to live coverage of their favourite domestic teams and the international team. It’s likely that this access will continue to be subscription-based for the foreseeable future. This does not seem to be a problem for fans of the live sport who have been prepared to pay a subscription fee for content up to this point.

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