ZEEL signs up for more content for its upcoming golf channel

By Anindita Sarkar , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media Publishing | March 05, 2012
While an optimistic few believe that Ten Golf will perform well with its niche audience, many apprehend that the timing of the launch could be a bit premature.

Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL) is going all out to gather the right kind of content for its upcoming sports channel, Ten Golf.

Recently, Ten Golf signed a three-year exclusive partnership deal with Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI), the official sanctioning body of professional golf in India. The deal provides Ten Golf with the broadcasting rights for all PGTI-sanctioned tournaments within and outside the country during 2012-14.

Now, the channel has entered into a licensing agreement with NBC Universal International Television Distribution, wherein it will showcase 400 hours of golf programming from the Golf Channel in the US. The content will include series and news and will be telecast under the branded block called Golf Channel.

Ten Golf has also acquired the broadcasting rights for the European Tour and the Asian Tour for a period of five years, beginning 2013. As part of the deal, Taj TV, the banner under which Ten Golf will operate, will have rights to air live and exclusive coverage of European Tour and Asian Tour events on Ten Golf, which is expected to be launched around mid-March.

The channel will telecast approximately 20 live events of the Asian Tour and 30 live events of the European Tour in 2013, which will add up to 200 days of live golf between these two tours.

For the Asian Tour, all tournaments of the game, including the tournaments which are co-sanctioned between the Asian Tour and the European Tour, the WGC-HSBC Championship, the Asian Tour Golf Show and event highlights will be televised.

Meanwhile, for the European Tour, all tournaments will be televised, along with European Tour Weekly, a magazine show and programme highlights.

So, will the channel be able to sustain itself in a cricket crazy nation like India?

Indranil Das Blah

Vidhu Sagar

Varun Paliwal

A recent annual report by TAM, titled Impatient Generation, suggests that while cricket continues to remain the No. 1 sport in the country as far as viewership is concerned, rankings of wrestling, golf, basketball, volleyball and baseball improved during the year when compared to the previous one.

However, many still believe that the timing of the launch of the golf channel could be a bit premature.

"I do feel that golf remains a very niche sport and while it continues to grow, I don't think the country is ready for a dedicated 24X7 golf channel. Even full-time cricket channels are struggling today to maintain a healthy P&L due to lack of content and subsequent paucity of advertisers," says Indranil Das Blah, chief operating officer, KWAN.

Vidhu Sagar, senior vice-president at Carat Media India notes that for a channel as niche as Ten Golf, it will be an uphill task to create, build and sustain that niche.

"Yes, there are a lot of niche genres that have started to open up in India. But sustenance is going to be tough," he adds.

Also in a country like India, where revenues are dependent primarily on advertising, Ten Sports (individually) could find it tough to get advertisers on board initially. "And even if it does, advertisers would be willing to pay only an estimated Rs 500-800 for a 10-second spot," states a top industry executive.

Many note that the one factor that will decide the success quotient of the channel will be the victory of Indian golfers abroad. If a couple of Indians start doing well on the European and the US PGA Tours, then viewership will see an immediate increase, resulting in increased revenues for the channel.

"But till that happens, the channel will find it difficult to sustain itself, no matter how good the international content is. Do remember that the four main golf events globally, the Majors, are already telecast in India and do not see huge viewership numbers," avers Blah.

However, there are a few who are optimistic that the channel will perform well within its own niche audience if it is targeted well.

Varun Paliwal, founder and CEO, Winning Matters Consulting notes that while for many corporates, golf is almost a must-watch, there is a growing gang of young people who are increasingly getting passionate about the sport. Also, a lot of rich parents push their kids to get trained in at least two-three sport varieties and golf is surely one of them. "And, if these audiences can be tapped well, the channel will witness growth," he explains.

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