ESPN STAR Sports on Wednesday announced its acquisition of the sporting event, the 2006 FIFA World Cup for the Indian sub-continent. Under the terms of the agreement with Infront Sports & Media, FIFA’s exclusive television partner for the event, ESPN STAR Sports will provide full and exclusive coverage of the World Cup, including 64 matches, on its two channels, ESPN and STAR Sports.
The successful conclusion of the World Cup rights package sees the network continue its winning streak of securing top-flight football programming, which includes exclusive broadcast rights for the English Premier League, Spanish Primera Liga, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Cup and the FA Package. The agreement will represent a new watermark, reinforcing the network’s long-term position as the region’s number one and the most complete sports broadcaster, both in terms of programming and the quality of its coverage.
In June this year, ESPN STAR Sports will be showcasing the exclusive coverage of the FIFA World Youth Championships 2005, which kicks off in the Netherlands on June 10, 2005. This will be followed immediately by the FIFA Confederations Cup 2005, which starts in Germany from June 15, 2005 and will be played across five German cities and conclude on June 29, 2005.
This latest acquisition means that more than 25 million households in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh Sri Lanka, Maldives, Nepal and Bhutan will get to watch the network’s extensive 2006 FIFA World Cup coverage, which includes live matches accompanied by English and Hindi commentary, daily pre-shows during match days, a daily review show as well as special lead-up programming.
R C Venkateish, Managing Director, ESPN Software India Pvt Ltd., said, “No other sporting event captures the world’s focus and imagination like the FIFA World Cup. Our successful acquisition of this event marks another step in our ongoing strategy to bring our viewers only the best must-see programming available.”
Venkateish added, “The surge in ratings for the telecast of the UEFA EURO 2004 in the Indian market clearly shows the growing popularity of soccer in India. Our investment in localising our content and adding Hindi commentary definitely added further in increasing the penetration for the game resulting in increase in television rating points. Continuing with the philosophy of making telecast more entertaining for local markets, we will be sharing plans to localise content and publicise the world’s most watched sports event, the 2006 FIFA World Cup.”
Oliver Seibert, an Executive Director of Infront, said: “ESPN STAR Sports is a great soccer supporter and this agreement will continue the process of developing football across the Asian region.”