Star India is investing US$3.2 billion (INR200 billion) over the next three to five years to develop sports coverage in the country and take equity stakes in new football initiative the Indian Super League, the Hockey India League and the India Badminton League.
New branding will also be introduced across the six Star Sports television channels and its online portal starsports.com at midnight on 6 November. Star Sports will be renamed Star Sports 1, Star Sports 2 remains Star Spots 2, Star Cricket will become Star Sports 3, ESPN will be rebranded Star Sports 4, Star Cricket HD will be called Star Sports HD1 and ESPN HD will be rebranded Star Sports HD2.
Star Sports 1 will comprise around 65% cricket broadcasts in English, concentrating on India's international cricket matches. Star Sports 2 will also cover cricket, including Ranji matches, university and women's cricket, as well as internationals that do not feature India. Star Sports 3 will become India's first 24-hour Hindi sports channel with content, graphics and shows in Hindi. Star Sports says its Hindi feed accounted for 70% of viewers in the recently concluded CLT20 cricket series. Sporting content on Star Sports 3 will be similar to Star Sports 1.
The News Corp-owned broadcaster holds the 2014 rights for over 100 days of Indian international cricket, 30 days of university and women's cricket, 80 days of domestic cricket and 80 days of international cricket featuring teams other than India.
"Cricket is too big to be confined to just one channel. Today, we are redoubling our efforts to showcase the best of Indian and international cricket to the sports fan. We will cover more of it, have wider coverage, go deeper, use multiple languages and take it beyond television," said Uday Shankar, CEO, Star India.
Star Sports 4 will concentrate on other sports, such as international football, European football league matches, badminton, tennis, and Formula 1 (F1) motor racing. "The new brand is also about showcasing our commitment to other sports. While cricket will be central to our approach, we will also be faithful to our role as a sports broadcaster and bring in the best of local and world sports to India, whether in soccer, hockey, badminton, tennis, F1 or the many other sports that fans in India are deeply passionate about.
"We want to build a platform that will help nurture heroes out of the millions of passionate, young sports fans across India. And today, we are signalling that we are deeply committed to making this transformation happen, through our investments, our ideas and our efforts," added Shankar.