ESPN-STAR Sports (ESS) has announced a new contract with FIFA for the exclusive television rights to broadcast FIFA’s stellar line-up of 275 international football events, including the 2010 FIFA World Cup and the FIFA Confederations Cup, for the Indian Sub-continent. In addition, ESS will bring other premier FIFA World Cup events for men, women, youth, Futsal and beach soccer to fans in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives, Bhutan and Nepal.
ESS has proved itself to be the right partner for FIFA in the Indian Sub-continent and has continued its partnership with the world’s governing body of football after the successful broadcasts of the 2006 FIFA World Cup. With the production and transmission of over 100 hours of original content, the 2006 FIFA World Cup was watched by over 50 million people in India alone through the ESS broadcast, which was a 44 per cent increase on the 2002 FIFA World Cup.
Commenting on the development, Manu Sawhney, Managing Director, ESPN-STAR Sports, said, “We are extremely delighted to continue our partnership with FIFA, with whom we share a very special relationship. This agreement is a testament to our commitment of building the game of football by presenting it in the most innovative and entertaining manner to millions of fans in the Indian Sub-continent.”
FIFA President Joseph S Blatter said, “I am proud that today with ESPN-STAR Sports is joining the FIFA family to further enhance football across its platforms in the Sub-Indian region. The fact that ESPN-STAR Sports is entering in its record deal in the Indian market underlines its commitment to football. It ensures that images of our events, including the 2010 FIFA World Cup, will be seen by the widest possible audience across Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka – steadily growing football markets. It is a major milestone in our history and the football in the entire region will undoubtedly benefit from this deal sealed today.”
According to RC Venkateish, Managing Director, ESPN Software India Pvt Ltd, “ESPN-STAR Sports has played a key role in propagating international soccer in India, and the results have begun to show. Soccer viewership has shown a consistent increase. For instance, the reach of Barclays Premier League has grown at more than 40 per cent per annum since 2005. The broadcast rights of over 275 international football games will ensure that Indian soccer enthusiasts will continue to get world class soccer action on their TV screens.”
The successful conclusion of the 2010 FIFA World Cup rights package sees the network continue its winning streak of securing top-flight football programming, which includes exclusive broadcast rights for the recently concluded UEFA Euro 2008, which saw record audience, Barclays Premier League, FA Cup and the Spanish Primera Liga.
ESS will build upon its efforts of 2006 and millions of fans in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh Sri Lanka, Maldives, Nepal and Bhutan will get to watch the network’s extensive 2010 FIFA World Cup coverage, which will include live matches, accompanied by English and Hindi commentary for all 64 games – daily pre-shows during match days, a daily review show as well as special lead-up programming.