ESPN-STAR Sports on Friday announced a special Hindi commentary on the Live coverage of the English Premier League (EPL) with an eye to promote soccer across India. Taking cue from the successful introduction of Hindi commentary during UEFA Euro 2004 and FIFA Confederation Cup 2005, ESPN-STAR Sports has extended Hindi commentary for the rest of EPL season and other select soccer matches. The Hindi commentary will be available in addition to the on-going English commentary.
Speaking about the initiative, Sricharan Iyengar, Vice-President, Sales and Marketing, ESPN Software India Pvt Ltd, said, “Localisation of content has helped us increase our penetration in traditional markets of India. The Hindi telecast also enabled us to open up several non-traditional markets for soccer like Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra. The viewership numbers of Confederation Cup 2005 as well as UEFA Euro 2004 testifies this. The localisation adds a lot of value to our telecast, especially for viewers who find it difficult to understand the heavily accented English or for viewers who are not familiar with English at all.”
“Soccer is gaining popularity as one of the most viewed sport in Indian homes and we find that EPL is particularly well liked by viewers in metros. ESPN-STAR Sports has been making special efforts to further grow EPL’s popularity nationally. Live screenings, building viewer affinity for EPL clubs and growing knowledge among Indian viewers are some of the steps we have taken to enhance the passion associated with the game and in turn grow the league. The introduction of Hindi commentary will further help in growing the popularity of English Premier League across the country,” added Iyengar.
Sunil Taneja and Puneet Pal Singh will do the Hindi commentary for English Premier League on a rotational basis, both will be based in the broadcaster’s headquarters in Singapore.
ESPN-STAR Sports featured five Live and exclusive matches of the English Premier League every week, adding to over 160 Live matches in the 2003-04 seasons. The 2004-05 season saw over 350 hours of Live football action with up to 10 matches a week and over 300 hours of feature programming that included Goals! English Premier League Highlights, Here We Go, Premiership Extra, Premiership Saturday and Super Sunday, among others.
The popularity of EPL is growing across the country. With the 2004-05 EPL season, the number of markets, which recorded 1+ rating for EPL, has increased. Key markets such as Mumbai, Kolkata have shown steady growth in viewership. Mumbai has recorded some very high numbers like touching 4.03 for a Liverpool vs Arsenal match, and such examples are on a rise.
In Mumbai, the FA club final was the highest rated averaging 3.0 ratings. The other big matches have also performed very well in this city, with six matches crossing a 1 rating in the city. Kolkata, given the traditional soccer following, has been the fastest to lap on to the European Club soccer fever. On an overall level 14 matches crossed a rating of 1, with the EPL match on October 16, 2005 reaching levels of 2.6. Delhi and Bangalore, too, have caught on to club soccer with the top 10 matches averaging 0.8 & 0.5, respectively.
ESPN-STAR Sports in India has telecast rights of the best of international soccer, including English Premier League, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Cup, Spanish Primera Liga, FA Football Package, Asian Football Confederation Package and Brazilian Football. Besides, ESPN-STAR Sports also has rights to exclusively broadcast FIFA World Cup 2006.