TRAI PLANS: Star launches cheaper Sports, English channel packs

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Star India’s new English & Sports packs under TRAI rules, price excl. tax

Cable and DTH users can now watch Star India’s sports and English channels at 30% lower cost as India’s largest broadcaster has introduced smaller, more affordable channel packs in these two genres.

The move is seen as a reaction to the feedback given by the market to the company’s previous line up.

Till now, Star had refused to include its six sports channels and seven English channels in any pack that did not also come with a host of Indian channels.

In other words, if you wanted to watch only sports and English channels from Star, you were forced to buy the company’s Indian channels as well, or go for the prohibitively expensive a-la carte option.

To explain it with numbers, before this price cut, a subscriber would have had to shell out around Rs 142 per month in terms of pay channel costs and around Rs 60 in terms of network charges just to watch Star’s 6 sports channels and 7 English channels in HD.

In other words, the total cost of watching these 13 channels came to about Rs 200 — which is comparable to what many cable subscribers in India’s rural areas pay for their entire month’s cable TV consumption.

Such a policy is likely to have impacted the reach of Star’s sports and English channels, including the likes of Star Movies, Star World and so on.

In contrast, Sony, the only other broadcaster with a big list of sports channels, had made all its 7 English and Sports HD channels at a cost of Rs 59. Together with network charges of Rs 23, a user would have to spend only Rs 82 to watch Sony’s four HD sports channels and its three HD English channels.

In other words, Star India’s 13 English and Sports channels cost almost 2.5 times compared to Sony’s 7 English and Sports channels.

The comparison is more favorable now, as the total cost of watching Star’s 13 channels has come down to around Rs 140 per month, including 40 rupees of network fee.

Star’s earlier strategy was based on its calculation that it could use its sports and English channels to drive its regional channel consumption, and vice versa.

That strategy seems to have undergone a rethink in the light of actual information coming from cable and DTH companies.

Initial trends have indicated that the overwhelming majority of cable and DTH users have not opted for such mega packs from broadcasting companies like Star, Zee and Sony, and have instead gone with multi-broadcaster packs prepared by their provider.

Channel reach tracker Chrome DM, for example, found that only 15% of the users who were on the new TRAI tariff regime had opted for broadcaster packs, while GTPL Hathway revealed that 85% of its subscribers had gone with packs suggested by the cable operators, instead of going with broadcasters’ packs or exercising their a-la carte option.

ENTER THE ENGLISH + SPORTS PACK

To deal with the situation, Star has now unveiled two new, lower-priced packs — Mini and Premium.

The Mini is targeted at those who want to watch Star’s English language offerings, while the Premium is targeted at those who are interested in both English and sports. There is currently no pack for those who are interested in just watching the sports channels.

Both Mini and Premium have an HD and a non-HD configuration.

The HD version of the Mini pack — comprising just three English language channels — is priced at Rs 41.30, while the non-HD version — also of three channels — is priced at Rs 23.60, including taxes.

Both variants contain Star World and Star Movies, while Star Select HD is included in case of the HD pack and Fox Life in case of non-HD pack. The Mini pack price is not very different from the sum of the prices of the individual channels.

The second type of bouquet unveiled by Star is called Premium pack.

Like Mini, Premium also comes in HD and non-HD variants, but unlike Mini, these contain all the English and sports offerings of the company.

The HD variant of the Premium pack is priced Rs 100, while the non-HD version is priced at Rs 58.

In addition to the channels contained in Mini, Premium HD pack comes with Star World Premium HD, Fox Life HD, National Geographic HD, Nat Geo HD and Baby TV HD.

On top of this, the Premium pack comes with all the English-language sports channels of the group, including Star Sports 1&2, Star Sports Select 1&2, Star Sports 3 and Star Sports First.

However, the non-HD version of the Premium pack is missing three HD-only channels — Star World Premier, Star Movies Select and Baby TV HD.

The new packs from Star will be made available on various platforms in coming days. Star’s other packs remain unchanged in terms of their pricing.

UPDATE: TV18 has also tweaked its pricing and package structure with effect from next month. See below:

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