Star India, a dominant pay-television broadcaster in the country, will provide free-to-air (FTA) coverage of the upcoming Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 franchise cricket tournament for the first time.

The Disney-owned broadcaster will show 12 matches on its FTA channel Star Utsav Movies.

Since acquiring IPL rights five years ago, Star has only aired games on its pay-TV network.

Star is understood to have made the move to offer FTA games to increase its viewership and advertising revenue with hopes of attracting major brands.

It follows a similar move by Viacom18, the Indian media and entertainment heavyweight, which will reportedly stream IPL games for free.

In last year’s IPL media rights auction for the 2023-27 cycle, Star retained domestic TV rights while Viacom18 secured digital rights.

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This marked the first time the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) governing body had sold separate packages.

In total, the BCCI sold four packages for $6.2 billion.

Disney held streaming rights during the previous IPL cycle, covering the action on that front through the Hotstar service.

The 2023 IPL season begins on March 31 and run until the end of May.