Star Sports to air in Kannada from November 16

In a good news to Kannadigas, especially those who couldn't savour the complete experience of sports events on TV due to their limited understanding of English, Star Sports India will soon arrive in Kannada.

The excitement was palpable on social media on Thursday after Star India Pvt Limited issued a public notice: "Viewers are informed that 'Channel V' will be available as as 'Star Sports 1 Kannada' with effect from November 16."

Jayanth Sidmallappa, a city-based techie, was one of the first persons to welcome the news on twitter: "Excellent news indeed. Thanks @StarSportsIndia. We may see next editions #IPL in #Kannada given its rights r now with Star Asia Networks!"

For years, pro-Kannada activists associated with groups like Kannada Grahaka Koota and Banavasi Balaga have been demanding sports channels to air their Kannada version. A chorus joined them after Star Sports launched the Tamil version in May this year with many complaining about the absence of Kannada channel.

On Thursday, though there was no announcement from Star India, which owns a host of channels, the public notice published in newspapers was enough to bring the celebratory mood.

However, experts noted that the motive behind the move to shut down an independent music and entertainment channel and replace it with Kannada version of Star Sports was pure business.

"The dynamics of programming tells us that an individual channel like Channel V requires a lot of expenditure on content creation. But airing Star Sports in Kannada involves a minor part of that expenditure. The content is already created for english and other language channels. The media house only spends on translation, besides transmission," said Sumit Kombra, a branding and event expert.

According to Broadcast Audience Research Council of India, non-cricket sports already contribute to 20% of the live matches viewership with Pro-Kabaddi leading the way. The viewership of IPL matches, that drew 360 million viewers last year, will surge further if Star Sports continues with its plan to launch channels in Telugu, Malayalam and Bengali.

Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Goa market were followed by Karnataka, with the three groups together contributing to nearly 60% of viewership.

"Media houses will win the race for ad revenue through the collective strength rather than individual channels," Kombra added.
In the beginning of the year, there were reports of Star India surrendering broadcasting licences for seven channels, expected to air content in regional language. The latest move has, therefore, come as a relief for many who wanted to consume sports TV in Kannada.

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