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ESPN STAR Sports regains the telecast rights for F1 race

By Sumantha Rathore , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | September 04, 2008
The rights are for all platforms - TV, internet, mobile and radio

ESPN & #BANNER1 & # STAR Sports (ESS) and Formula One Management (FOM) have renewed their relationship for another five years. ESPN has had the telecast rights for this sporting event for the last 17 years. This time, the relationship has been extended to other platforms - apart from TV, it now includes internet, mobile and radio. The deal is for 24 markets across Asia.

F1 has, over the years, enticed viewers; but with the sport now being introduced to newer markets such as Singapore, India and South Korea, the win becomes more significant.

RC Venkateish, MD, ESPN Software India, spoke about the deal to afaqs!. "The market for F1 has being growing steadily for quite some time now in our country. We have a lot of attraction towards the sport, especially with Narain Karthikeyan and Force India team making it to the F1 race. The upcoming 2010 F1 race in India will mark a sea change in the sports scenario of India, to ignite interest in the sport even further."

According to Venkateish, the sport is anyway doing extremely well amongst the upper section of the society. "Some of our shows have TRP of approximately 1, which is very good. The upcoming races, including night race in Singapore and 2010 F1 race in India, will double the ratings of our channel. We are expecting to see a great jump in the viewership of our channel due to this deal."

The rights would cover ESS' footprint in Asia, including India, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and South Korea.

Manu Sawhney
Since the motor racing sport is very popular amongst the upscale section of the society, the company is expecting a huge inflow of money from the various advertisers of premium brands as well.

Manu Sawhney, managing director, ESPN STAR Sports, says in an official communiqué, "ESS continues to be committed to further popularize and build the sport of motor racing amongst fans in Asia. We are very confident that now, with many new platforms and avenues, F1 fans in Asia can look forward to the most comprehensive and entertaining experience with us."

This deal has many new offerings for F1 in Asia.

For the first time, Formula One rights have been awarded on a platform neutral basis, radio rights have been included and ESS will have terrestrial rights in a number of key markets. F1 content will be made available on a linear and non-linear basis for the first time ever.

Bernie Ecclestone, CEO, FOM, says, in an official communiqué, "Formula One has enjoyed unprecedented growth in popularity throughout Asia over the last few years and we feel that this comprehensive new agreement with ESS will help continue this trend."

ESPN STAR Sports currently covers the Formula One with live coverage of all 18 races. Complementing the live coverage are its pre and post-race presentations, Race Day and Chequered Flag, which provide live reports, race analysis and insights into the people behind the high-speed action.

With the new rights for internet, mobile and radio, in addition to exclusive pay-TV and terrestrial TV rights in many key markets, ESS is planning extended coverage and presentation for the next Formula One season on these platforms.

"We have a variety of plans for various platforms to exploit the content. Our website, www.espnstar.com has already been revamped and provides a tremendous entry gateway for the sports. Similarly, our mobile wing, mobileESPN and STAR Sports Mobile deliver differentiated mobile content targeted at its various audiences," elaborates Venkateish.

ESPN STAR Sports is a 50:50 joint venture between Walt Disney (ESPN, Inc.) and News Corporation Limited (STAR).