by Brindaalakshi K and Nikhil Pahwa

mobile-video-cmn-freeCorrigendum below

Online video streaming platform dittoTV will stream the Zimbabwe-Sri Lanka-West Indies tri-series cricket matches. The series is set to take place between November 15 to 27, 2016, and will be streamed live on Ten1HD which is a channel from Ten Sports, and is also available on dittoTV.

Note that Ten Sports was actually sold by the Zee group (which owns dittoTV) to Sony a few months ago, so it’s interesting that dittoTV will continue to stream the live content from Ten Sports, considering that Sony has Sony LIV, which streams content from Sony’s properties like ESPN, Sony Six. It is not clear though how the financial terms will work between dittoTV and Ten1HD (Sony owned), especially considering that Zee Group even sold the cricket rights for Cricket boards including South Africa, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, West Indies and Zimbabwe to Sony.

The DittoTV app is available on Android and iOS platforms, with a monthly subscription charge of Rs. 20. More on that Rs 20 pricing here, from our interaction with Punit Goekna.

Exclusive rights: Customer acquisition, but is it worth it? 

Acquiring exclusive digital rights for cricket matches may seem to be a useful user acquisition strategy, but in reality, may not be so with the cost involved in acquiring these rights. There are several problems with respect to owning exclusive rights to sporting content:

  • Firstly, users may come on board for one match or this series, but what next? Will they come back to the platform without another game? What will make them come back? Viacom’s VOOT which recently secured the digital rights for Big Boss, will also face a similar situation when the season ends. The way things work now with on-demand content, the users allegiance is largely to the content and not the platform.
  • Secondly, the shelf-life for cricket or any other live events is very low considering that the content is time sensitive. Unlike a movie or music content, users may not come back to watch an old match once it is over. Even if someone has a library of cricket content, it’s not likely they’re come back daily to view it.
  • Platforms are forced to diversify considering that sporting events cannot solely be depended upon for revenue, and this is where a large library of entertainment content comes in. But much of this content is commodity, which is why platforms are now differentiating themselves with original content.

Using Cricket to kick-start advertising?

What might work for a channel or a platform here is perhaps advertising revenue or recurring billing: users might get a Rs 20 monthly subscription pass with recurring billing, just to be able to watch a match. Advertising revenue is an alternative, where the scale that brings Cricket in works for platforms and channels: it helps introduce advertisers to the platform. YouTube did that successfully, when it acquired digital rights the Indian Premiere League T20 Cricket series. It’s not clear whether they made a profit from that sponsorship, but they used it to kickstart advertising on YouTube, which still continues.

Other platforms haven’t been able to make this work, though. For example, even after securing the digital streaming rights for two premium sporting properties such as Euro 2012 football tournament and a India-Sri Lanka Cricket series, online video service, iStream shut down its service in 2013.

It’s not clear if this particular Cricket tournament will find takers among advertisers in India, but it could be the start of something for Ten1HD / dittoTV.

Corrigendum: An earlier version of this story mentioned that dittoTV had acquired rights to this tournament. The article has been edited, and context provided changed.