Star India’s video-streaming service Hotstar set up a new world record of sorts when over 10 million concurrent viewers logged in to watch the final match of the cricket Indian Premier League (IPL) tournament on May 27. The feat comes days after the streaming service broke the earlier record by hitting a record 8.26 million concurrent viewers in the first IPL qualifier match, ETTech reported.
Both these matches featured Chennai Super Kings and Sunrisers Hyderabad playing against each other. These records go far ahead than the previous record of 8 million concurrent views registered on YouTube live for Austrian Felix Baumgartner’s leap from a helium balloon, 39 km above the earth. In comparison, 3.1 million people watched the New England Patriots lose the most recent Super Bowl. The numbers are double of the online audience recorded for the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump.
A whopping Rs 16,348 crore was paid by Star India to secure IPL’s television and digital rights for five years in September 2017. The company also pumped in Rs 1,233 crore into Hotstar after it got these rights.
“We have hit a certain scale that has really allowed us to take off. We added 150 million users in April. We have invested dramatically in building technology capabilities. We have now built a platform that can take that sort of scale. A five million scale would be difficult to support on most video platforms even today,” Hotstar Chief Executive Ajit Mohan was quoted as saying by Reuters in an earlier report.
A cricket match became the most watched event in internet history, Parimal Pandya, vice president of Akamai’s Asian media division, told Boston Globe. The Cambridge-based digital content delivery company’s global network delivered the broadcast to Hotstar users. “It’s (cricket) a religion in this country. The biggest cricket stars are treated like gods,” Pandya said.
A total of 26 million fans connected to the Hotstar stream for at least part of the match.
Hotstar has also benefited from its distribution deals with Airtel and Reliance Jio, that live-streamed these matches by integration of the streaming service to their apps. The sports-only subscription at Hotstar costs Rs 299 per year.
Fewer than five million Indians had wireless broadband until a few years ago. But with the surging popularity of India’s wireless data services, phones are being used as primary way to watch video. Phone apps also offer interactivity to users. For instance, the Hotstar app lets viewers play along with cricketers, or guess what the players will do next. It gives them an incentive to log in, even if they are near a TV set.