ESPN STAR Sports bets on hockey

By , agencyfaqs! | In | November 18, 2004
The sports channel, on Wednesday, announced a deal with the Indian Hockey Federation to telecast the Premium Hockey League for ten years

Broadcasters such as ESPN STAR Sports are trying to aggressively promote non-cricket properties such as football and hockey.

And it's not difficult to gauge why.

Cricket properties, these days, no longer ensure guaranteed returns on investments as viewership of cricket matches seem to be on a roller-coaster ride. Then, there are issues of the Indian team's not-so-encouraging performance and channels fighting court battles.

In short, cricket is no longer the golden goose that it once it used to be, especially considering the hefty amounts required to buy its slices.

The sports channel, on Wednesday, announced a deal with the Indian Hockey Federation and Leisure Sports Management to telecast the Premium Hockey League for ten years. The channel is also spending a fortune on promoting the game.

RC Venkateish, managing director, ESPN Software India Pvt Ltd, says it is worthwhile to invest in hockey, despite the game being well past its hay day. He says, "We are not looking at a single tournament. We plan to build hockey as a lucrative property through promotions and coverage of international standard. We hope to leverage the benefits in the next two to three years."

ESPN claims that the telecast of the matches will be of a very high quality. The channel has introduced multi-camera setups and will have commentary in both English and Hindi. The channel has also fitted chips in the players' boots for a virtual view of the game. Apart from these, filmstars as well as cricket stars such as Sachin Tendulkar will also be seen promoting the game and the cheering for their local team. Dhanraj Pillay, the ace hockey player, will also be seen in action.

While the channel is yet to firm up with any sponsor for this tournament, Venkateish says, "We are in talks with different sponsors and will soon get them on board."

Talking about advertising rates for the tournament, Venkateish says that the rates will certainly not be at par with cricket properties but will be more than the ad rates for the football tournament, the IFA Shield."

Venkateish explains, "While the IFA Shield is a regional affair restricted to a few states, the Premier Hockey League will certainly be a national level tournament."

Contrary to popular notion, the tournament will be keenly watched by a couple of south Indian states, apart frrom Punjab and north India, Venkateish says.

For the convenience of viewers, the matches are scheduled to start between 8.30 pm and 9 pm. There will be five teams each in the two tiers of the tournament. To add to the excitement, each team will have five foreign players. Till date, as many as 17 international players have already committed to participate in the tournament.

All matches of the tournament will be played in the Gachibowli stadium, Hyderabad, which was built for the Afro-Asian games.

To increase viewers' participation, the channel is also organising consumer contests and player affinity programmes.

Like cricket, the organisers have announced an hefty amount as prize money. Premium Hockey League will offer a total prize money of Rs 71 lakh. Of this, the winner of the Tier I will receive Rs 30 lakh, while the runners-up will win Rs 10 lakh. The winner of Tier II will get Rs 4 lakh, while the runner up will receive Rs 2.5 lakh.

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