2021 going to be bumper year for sports, believes Star India's sports head

Star Sports recently renewed its rights to broadcast the Wimbledon, Premier League and Formula One. The T20 World Cup and World Test Championship final are also slated for this year.

Sanjog Gupta, Head - Sports, Star India

Sanjog Gupta, Head - Sports, Star India   -  Special Arrangement

The 2020 edition of the Indian Premier League was a unique one. The raging pandemic forced the tournament out of India to the United Arab Emirates, where it was held behind closed doors. Host broadcaster Star Sports had a massive challenge in its hands - to bridge the gap, literally and figuratively, between the at-home fans and the live-action unfurling in the UAE. 

Star successfully managed to achieve that goal through novel concepts such as “Fan Walls” and chant-triggering emojis and witnessed unprecedented growth in viewership to record its best-ever IPL till date. 

Speaking to Sportstar, Sanjog Gupta, head-sports, Star India, said, “The first thing we needed to do was to not try and compensate for the lack of audiences. We needed to shift from a mindset of believing that something was missing in the game, to being something that needed a complete redesign.


The Indian Premier League trophy   -  SPORTZPICS/BCCI


"So when you're delivering interactivity, either in the form of the ‘Fan Wall’, or in the form of being able to use emojis to trigger chants in the stadium… these are the modern, delightful elements that actually take your attention away from whatever your experience was in the past.”

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Elaborating on the technical innovations adopted, he said, “One thing that we have all seen is that the pandemic has accelerated a lot of tech trends that were simmering under the radar and their adoption has been accelerated by virtue of need, instead of comfort.”

He continued, “The coverage of sports in 2020 has shown us that there is a significant gap in the engagement of audiences at home and that there is a crying need for us to think about the experience we're delivering to viewers beyond just the experience of the match field.

"I think you’ll see a lot more tech being deployed as we go along, which makes the experience of watching the game much more immersive. We may even introduce Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) aspects to our broadcasts.”

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Star Sports recently renewed its rights to broadcast the Wimbledon, Premier League and Formula One. With the T20 World Cup and World Test Championship final also slated for this year, Sanjog feels “there cannot be a better calendar for the return of Indian sports.”

“It's going to be a bumper year as far as sports is concerned. The way that we're approaching the year is to basically build on the work that we've done over the last couple of years across what we call the three I’s - intimacy, interactivity and immersion,” he said.  

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