ESPN STAR Sports has entered into a three-year deal with TNA Entertainment to broadcast all TNA Wrestling programmes on its channels in India and the rest of Asia.
Under the deal ESPN STAR Sports will showcase the popular TNA programmes - 'TNA Impact,' 'TNA Xplosion' and a special weekly programme from the archives of TNA Wrestling.
R C Venkateish, MD, ESPN Software India, said, "Viewer interest in professional wrestling has been on the rise in India. Some of the big names from the world of professional wrestling have ardent fan following in the country. Our understanding of the viewers in India has led us to believe that the viewers have a hunger for more and more of professional wrestling."
"Following of professional wrestling is growing in India. It has a very loyal fan base, which, is increasing gradually. Interestingly, wrestling finds support in smaller towns too and is not limited as a metro phenomenon. TNA will also be an attraction because it features an Indian wrestler too in Sonjay Dutt," he added.
Apart from showing TNA Impact, TNA Xplosion and TNA Wrestling on a weekly basis, STAR Sports will also feature a monthly special, which will kick off with 'Lockdown' initially and then will be followed with one special every month.
Dixie Carter, President TNA Entertainment, said, "Asia has always been a hotbed for professional wrestling. We are thrilled to have ESPN Star Sports on board to showcase our brand of professional wrestling."
Fought for three titles, TNA Impact features the innovative six-sided ring giving many angles to the wrestler to attack his opponent. TNA Xplosion is TNA's one-hour weekly show featuring exclusive matches, interviews, news and rumors from TNA. On the other hand, TNA Wrestling will be featuring superstars from the world of professional wrestling including Sonjay Dutt, one of the first Indian American professional wrestler.
When asked whether the move is an attempt to counter Ten Sports, which has been beaming WWF Wrestling, Venkateish said, "The action and wrestling genre is attracting viewer interest. TNA deal is our attempt to address this growing viewer interest. Our acquisition on action properties will continue and we will not stop at TNA and will continue to consolidate this aspect of programming on our channels. We are looking at developing a comprehensive and entertaining professional wrestling package on our networks."
STAR World also showcases TNA wrestling programmes. However, Venkateish said, "STAR World airs only one of the programmes in the TNA package, TNA Xplosion, while STAR Sports will be showcasing the entire TNA package."
Asked on the promotional and marketing plans, Venkateish said, "We plan to market and build the popularity of TNA wrestling across the country. With a modest start, we expect to raise the tempo going forward. The full wrestling package has been released in a nationwide distributors programme. In the TNA-familiarising programme we have explained the TNA product in detail to distributors, equipped them with merchandise, information and so on. We will also be looking at Indianising the telecast of TNA on our networks."