As ESPN expands its presence in India through the recently announced collaboration with SONY for co-branded SONY ESPN channels and digital media, Ramesh Kumar and Sambit Bal are taking on expanded roles in the ESPN’s business in India and beyond.
Kumar will take on the new role of Vice President, Head of ESPN India and South Asia. In his new role Kumar will oversee all day-to-day operations of ESPN’s multimedia future in India and help drive the strategic growth of ESPN in India and the subcontinent. That includes oversight of ESPN’s leading digital properties including ESPNcricinfo, ESPN FC and the forthcoming local edition of multisport ESPN site and app in India. He will report to Russell Wolff, Executive Vice President, ESPN International and will continue to be part of ESPN’s regional Asia Pacific leadership team, working for Mike Morrison, Vice President, ESPN Asia Pacific.
“Ramesh has been a strong business leader who understands the richness and complexity of India and the competitive marketplace and product dynamics across the subcontinent,” said Wolff. “Under Ramesh’s leadership, our business in India has continued to evolve and grow, serving Indian fans in new ways, while also becoming an important part of ESPN’s business regionally and globally,” he adds.
Kumar, who joined ESPNcricinfo 15 years ago, has most recently been Head of ESPNcricinfo and ESPN India. In that role he oversaw the operation of ESPNcricinfo, the world’s leading digital cricket destination, globally – collaborating with ESPN teams in multiple regions and business units. Kumar also played an important role in developing ESPN’s agreement with SONY.
Sambit Bal has been, arguably, the leading cricket journalist in the world for years, serving as Editor of ESPNcricinfo since 2003. In his new, broader role, Bal will now serve as Editor-in-Chief, ESPN India/South Asia. In the role, he will continue to be responsible for all ESPNcricinfo editorial content (written, video and audio) while also overseeing all editorial content for the new India multisport ESPN.com site and app (launching June 2016). Bal will also take a leading role in growing ESPN’s global coverage of tennis. He will report to both Kumar and Patrick Stiegman, Vice President and Editorial Director, Digital and Print Media.
“Sambit’s strong editorial background, voice and journalistic distinction, combined with an acute eye for great talent and content, make him a perfect fit for this role,” said Stiegman. “He has been instrumental in establishing ESPNcricinfo as the most trusted and comprehensive source for news, commentary and information around cricket, and will now be instrumental in delivering the same level of excellence to our coverage of multiple sports for fans in India and beyond,” adds Steigman.
In October, ESPN and SONY Pictures Network in India (previously Multi Screen Media) reached a long-term collaboration that will bring new offerings to Indian sports fans including new SONY ESPN sports channels and a new multisport website and app. This collaboration between two of the most respected brands in Indian media and sports will provide a powerful portfolio of sports rights and the leading collection of digital sports assets in India.
Both Kumar and Bal played important roles in ESPN’s global multimedia coverage of the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup which included extensive studio and analysis programming from on site in Sydney, live match coverage in some territories globally, and became the most successful tournament in the ESPNcricinfo’s 21-year history across web, mobile web and apps – shattering all previous records from the world’s leading cricket website.