ESPN STAR Sports (ESS) has signed on batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar as the channel's brand ambassador. This happens to be Tendulkar's first ever-exclusive TV channel contract. However, details such as the time period for which Sachin Tendulkar has been signed up and the signing amount were not known as Manu Sawhney, managing director, ESPN Software India Pvt. Ltd, was not available for comment. What is known is that it is "a long-term contract signed between WorldTel and ESPN STAR Sports". And Sachin's role would be to actively promote ESPN and STAR Sports and join the channel's on-air in exclusive programming, which of course would be of great delight for the Indian cricket fans.
In a press release announcing the development, Manu Sawhney, was quoted saying, "Sachin is the icon of sporting excellence while ESPN and STAR Sports are the true leaders in sports broadcasting, making this relationship a natural fit of sporting excellence and leadership. We are extremely delighted and proud to have Sachin join us at ESPN STAR Sports."
The feeling, it seems, is mutual. The same release quotes Tendulkar saying he is looking forward to partnering with ESS, "ESPN and STAR Sports are clearly India's leaders in sports broadcasting They have completely altered the way the game is watched and followed in India. Along with their complete line-up of sports programming, I am looking forward to partnering the excellence in cricket broadcasting on ESPN and STAR Sports."
But what really propelled this decision? There are two theories doing the rounds. One, of course, is that this move has to do with increasing competition in the arena of sports broadcasting. The new entrant, Ten Sports, promoted by Sheikh Bukhatir and run by ex-ESPN hands like Chris McDonald, which debuted with the World Cup Soccer, has bagged the rights to all the cricket matches to be played in Sri Lanka, Sharjah and Morocco. Then DD Sports has rights to all international cricket matches played in India, while SET Max has telecast rights for the next two World Cups and three ICC tournaments. Though ESS holds rights to international cricket from eight out of the 10 test playing nations in the world (including Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, England, West Indies, Zimbabwe, Pakistan and Bangladesh), it lost the bid for the next two Cricket World Cups. So is this strategy a way to make up to the Indian viewer for the lacklustre Cricket rights in ESS' bank?
This brings us to the second theory: To hook advertiser interest. With the number of the sports channels going up in India, the advertising pie gets all the more divided. So how does a sports channel ensure that the money keeps flowing in? With cricket drawing the bulk of the advertising money, Sony's MAX has already roped in India's star all-rounder of not-so-distant past Kapil Dev to be the brand ambassador for the network for a period of three years. This not only reinforces the channel's commitment to its viewers, but gets the advertiser more interested in the channel.
That ESS is looking at a similar synergy is apparent from its press release on the recent tie-up. "It is our constant endeavour to innovate, create and bring compelling sports content from around the world for the millions of our loyal viewers," Sawhney has been quoted saying. "I'm sure our long-term association with Sachin will immensely enhance the value we bring to our viewers and business partners. ESPN and STAR Sports offer the most comprehensive cricket coverage showcased on any sports channel in India. In 2002 alone, ESPN and STAR Sports will showcase over 261 days of live and exclusive international cricket including a whopping 82 days' coverage of India's tours to West Indies, England and New Zealand,"
For the record, ESS reaches over 28 million homes in more than 4,000 cities and towns across India. In addition, ESPN STAR Sports' commentary team has some of the world's most recognisable voices. Cricketing legends Sunil Gavaskar and Geoffrey Boycott, along with Ravi Shastri, Navjot Singh Sidhu and ace commentator, Harsha Bhogle are part of the ESS cricket commentary team.
© 2002 agencyfaqs!First Published : June 29, 2002