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New deals to spice up sports channels

The joy of watching sport on
television in India is about to increase
very soon.The huge digital platform
that had Star India dominating the
scene with multiple properties and
Multi Screen Media (MSM) sitting
pretty with the big-budget Indian
Premier League (IPL), will now see
overseas competitors gunning for
space in the country .
MSM, the India arm for Sony Corp
that has been telecasting IPL the last
eight seasons and will continue to do
so for another two years before
rights renewal, has entered into a
‘long term deal’ with Walt Disney’s
The deal will allow MSM to rebrand its
sports channel Kix as Sony ESPN, and
lead to the launch of new channels in
the near future.The collaboration will
also allow Sony ESPN to initiate an
extended multi-sport digital platform
covering various sports on internet
and mobile applications.
However, this new deal is not the only
thing that should worry Star India,
which has pumped huge money into
Indian sport in the last three years.
It is learnt that media baron Subhash
Chandra’s Essel Group, which runs two
sports channels under Ten Sports, is
in advanced talks with Eurosport a
pan-European television sports
network run by French broadcaster
TF1 Group and Discovery
Communications Incorporated to
collaborate in India.
Sources in the Zee Group continue to
deny the development but it is learnt
that Eurosport CEO Peter Hutton was
in India recently to hold talks with
Chandra’s company . Sourc es also say
that while the Essel Group may not
have shown interest in many sports
leagues that have been sprouting
across India, they would certainly
give it a thought if they saw potential
in bidding successfully for the IPL. In
2018, Star’s six-year deal with the
BCCI involving cricket in India will
also conclude and all major players in
the market will want to see
themselves in the right position to
With international giants like ESPN
and Eurosport coming in, the
competition in the sports industry is
likely to intensify which is good news
for the fans. ESPN had parted ways
with Star in 2012 after the JV
between ESPN International and Fox
International Channels that catered
to audiences in China, Hong Kong,
Taiwan, India and Southeast Asia
came to an end. After a three-year
no-competition clause, ESPN finds
itself free to enter the Indian
markets that will be flush with sports
properties in the coming years.
“Components of the collaboration
require regulatory approvals, for
which the process is currently
underway ,” Sony ESPN said in a joint
press release.
For starters, the IPL digital rights
will be up for grabs in 2017 and
market sources indicate Star has been
waiting to pounce on it with “very
deep pockets.”
“MSM’s association with ESPN is
holistic and embraces both television
and digital formats. Not only are we
about to set the frontiers in sports
content and distribution but we will
most likely set the trends as well.
“Going further, both companies will
also explore collaboration on the
development of other original sports
programmes,” MSM CEO NP Singh said
after making Wednesday’s

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