Indian Premier League Taps Planetcast as Media Services Partner for Star Sports, Viacom18, Times Internet’s Cricbuzz

Planetcast Media Services has been selected as media services partner by Indian Premier League (IPL) rights winners Star Sports (domestic TV broadcast), Viacom18 (domestic OTT on JioCinema), and Times Internet (international via Cricbuzz). Planetcast brings deep cricket video experience to its work with Star Sports, Viacom18 and Times Internet, having provided the media distribution backbone for most of the IPL’s 16-year history.

To help rightsholders meet new IPL audience demands, Planetcast has pioneered a host of innovations to enhance viewer experience and monetisation, from near-real-time ad insertion to AI-based instant highlight creation to supporting the first 4K production since its launch by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). The league’s matchday coverage is among the world’s most complex live sports video challenges, with simultaneous matches broadcast and streamed over numerous channels and OTT services in multiple languages.

“It is hugely gratifying that IPL rightsholders have once again put their trust in Planetcast to ensure their coverage is breaking new ground while being delivered seamlessly around the world,” says Sanjay Duda, Planetcast Media Services’ Chief Executive Officer. “The work we’ve done at IPL matches almost every season since the first in 2008 has enabled Planetcast to build a reputation for handling incredibly complex and valuable live events. With the IPL now the world’s second most expensive sports rights on a per-match basis – just behind the NFL – media leaders like Star Sports, Viacom18 and Times Internet more than ever need to give TV viewers the best possible viewing experience, including UHD viewing on TV and mobile devices.”

The services Planetcast provides enable IPL 2023 rightsholders to deliver live high-definition (HD) and ultra-high-definition (UHD) coverage. These services include playout, feed management, live feed acquisition, low-latency encoding, graphics management, multi-language commentary and AI-based highlights editing. Planetcast is the technology mainstay for 17 Star Sports channels and several pop-up channels, with feeds in eight languages. Planetcast enables Viacom18 to bring IPL coverage to Indian streaming audiences via the JioCinema platform. In addition, it provides international OTT distribution for Times Internet to the USA, Canada, the Middle East and North Africa via its Cricbuzz website. The entire media services framework is deployed across 10 stadiums and three Viacom Sports Hubs in India.

“IPL 2023 will see us continue to push the envelope in consumer experience in live TV sports,” says Venugopal Iyengar, Chief Operating Officer, Digital, Planetcast International. “We are launching a number of IPL broadcast innovations this season, including AI-based editing with player facial recognition to quickly provide key video highlights, fast and flexible upstream ad insertion, and handling multiple language audio commentary tracks. We’re excited that Star Sports, Viacom18 and Cricbuzz have chosen us to enable them to fully monetise their coverage and, most importantly, drive viewer enjoyment for over 400 million cricket fans.”

To enable Star Sports’ UHD broadcast, Planetcast will be supporting HD1080P distribution using a satellite news gathering (SNG) kit at Dharamshala and Guwahati venues, representing India’s first SNG transmission of live sports using the latest HEVC technology with Dolby Atmos. Planetcast has created an IP setup based on the latest standards for 4K production, enabling parallel HD and UHD content delivery via compatible televisions and devices to consumers across India – with the opportunity to support HDR in the future.

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