Mumbai: How did a relatively new website, that is only about 17 months old, end up beating a 20-year-old cricket site to become the Number One sports destination in the digital domain in India? That, exactly, is what the young website starsports.com did, when it beat espncricinfo to second place.
The answer lies in the fact that users are surging towards great video content, a lot of data and analysis, and engrossing storytelling – these complete the total package that sports lovers are looking for on a sports website. They will not settle only for one-dimensional textual scorecards and information. They want the complete, informative, infotainment-filled, exciting and engrossing multimedia experience.
Let’s look at the numbers before we go into why these numbers are significant.
First, the numbers: The traffic metric for October 2014 which has been published by comScore, the world’s most respected company that reports on web traffic and other data globally, shows that starsports.com beat espncricinfo in terms of unqiue reach, with 4.424 million for starsports as against 4.233 million for espncricinfo.com.
And now, what does this achievement of starsports.com signify? It is a strong indication of an emerging consumption trend in the digital space. “Very clearly, we are seeing consumers slowly moving away from basic text and scorecards to a more immersive sports experience centered around video and rich data and analytics,” Ajit Mohan, EVP Star India and Head of New Media, said .
“The fact that starsports.com surpassed a leader that is 20 years old, in such a short period of time, points to a change in consumer preference: consumers are now extremely demanding,” Mohan said, adding, “They don’t want a flat offering of scores and a scorecard in boring, unidimensional text format. Instead, they want access to high-quality video streaming, especially when they are on the move, and a way to easily catch up on the matches and stories along with data and analysis that they have missed.”
Starsports.com is aware that apart from the overall content package, the pipeline of delivery has to be top notch and smooth. Therefore, says Mohan, “we have always placed immense importance on the quality of the video experience that we provide – it surpasses all constraints of data access and works even at low bandwidths,”
Mohan says that the explosion in the sale of smartphones, and the improving quality and geographical spread of the access to 3G and broadband also partly explains the trend of more and more users surging to quality website content for sports entertainment. However, he believes that “while these factors will grow the market size, it is ultimately the quality and multi-dimensionality of the user experience that makes for stickiness.”
Added to the above, “the new design of our website has increased the user stickiness where active users are now seen as engaging in multiple sessions throughout key tournaments,” says Mohan.
On Nov 13, 2014, after Rohit Sharma went on to score his second double century in ODIs, becoming the first cricketer to do so at the Eden Gardens, starsports.com broke its own record of the highest number of video views on a single day for any sporting event by garnering 3.6 million video views, thereby beating its own past record of 3.2 million video views during the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014.
Mohan says, “The Indian Premier League recorded 62 million video views and visits — which was a high growth of 40% numbers on YouTube from the previous year at a time when TV ratings for IPL were stagnant.”
A 3-part strategy for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015:
What are the future plans from the broadcaster that will bring to cricket-crazy India all the action from the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, which is just four months away?
Starsports.com, which became the #1 Sports Website in the month of October, beating espncricinfo according to the published October 2014 metrics report of comScore, has planned rich sports infotainment for sports lovers. This will be based on 3 important pillars: “These are (i) the Video Timeline (ii) multiple languages, and (iii) much larger amount of intereactive and immersive data and analysis,” says Ajit Mohan head of Star India Digital.
The video timeline, which is something Star India first introduced, will help cricket fans to catch up with whatever action they may have missed till whichever point they come on to the website,” Mohan said. “It is perhaps the best way to come straight up to speed on the action that has been missed. Like a short, exciting highlights package, so to speak. Also, the website will allow the user watching a match to follow its commentary in not just one, but any of four languages. These will be English, Hindi and two regional languages,” Mohan said.
Today, starsports.com has become the Number 1 destination for sports fans on digital. We asked Mohan to list the three biggest strengths of starsports.com. He said, “One of our biggest strengths lies in great storytelling. Starsports.com continuously works at enhancing the video experience, engaging data and analytics, and weaving them together to create great stories.”
Given its excellent achievement of taking over the Number One rank among sports websites in India, and the fact that one of the biggest and most loved global cricketing contest – the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 — is round the corner, starsports.com can definitely look forward to even bigger and better offerings to sportslovers, and achievements in the digital domain.