Expanding its bouquet to five channels in India, ESPN STAR Sports (ESS) has launched ESPN HD (High Definition), and STAR Cricket HD. The other three channels are ESPN, STAR Cricket and STAR Sports.
While both the HD channels will be available on Videocon D2H platform, it will only be STAR Cricket HD that will be available, and that too, only on Tata Sky. The channels will be available with immediate effect.
ESPN HD will showcase F1 action from the Hungarian Grand Prix, as well as the GP2 Series, the US Senior Open Golf, and Major League Baseball, in July. This will be followed with the 2011-2012 season of the Barclays Premier League in August.
Speaking on the strategic importance of the launch of HD networks,Manu Sawhney, managing director, ESPN STAR Sports, said in an official communiqué, "We see huge potential for the HD channels in India, and have received a very positive and encouraging response from advertisers and platform operators as we continue to set new industry benchmarks. We have a very exciting calendar of events ahead of us and with the launch of these two 24x7 High Definition sports networks, Indian sports fans can look forward to a completely new way of enjoying sports."
On Tata Sky, STAR Cricket HD will be part of the HD gold pack and made available on an a-la-carte basis.
Earlier, a major growth in the sports genre only happened withWorld Cup cricket tournaments. But now, with the IPL taking the centre stage along with four-five India series and some ICC tournaments taking place every year, sports as a genre, has gained significant importance over the years.
The advertiser base for this slice has also largely expanded, with large FMCGs taking big positions on the league and other sports formats. Also, the advertising category for this genre is no more restricted to only brands with a male skew.