ESPN STAR Sports has announced the launch of a dedicated cricket channel especially for audiences in the Indian subcontinent. The new channel, STAR Cricket, will commence transmission in June 2007. STAR Cricket will be the 15th channel launched by ESPN STAR Sports in the Asia Pacific region and the third in India.
RC Venkateish, Managing Director, ESPN Software India Pvt Ltd, said, “ESPN STAR Sports has recently acquired the rights to many major sports properties including the biggest cricket property in the world, the ICC global telecast rights. The two channels that we have are already brimming with high quality content. Going forward, we intend to further strengthen our content line-up both in cricket and other sports. The launch of STAR Cricket is part of our long-term strategy to further strengthen our offering to sports fans in the country.”
Venkateish added that STAR Cricket will showcase live India and non-India cricket. “We plan to add quality first class cricket coverage from around the globe as well. The channel will also showcase feature programming on cricket including reality shows, archival programming and magazine shows,” he said.
With the ICC telecast rights for the next eight years and rights from Test-playing nations like England and Australia, the ESPN STAR Sports (ESS) network is looking at a total of 24 Test matches and 42 ODIs in 2007 alone. In addition, the network will also telecast the ICC Twenty20 World Cup later this year featuring 27 matches.
With STAR Cricket coming on air in June, cricket fans will be able to watch the India tour of England where they will play four Tests and seven ODIs.
Commented Ravi Shastri, ESS expert commentator and the recently appointed manager of the Indian cricket team for the tour of Bangladesh, said, “There is a huge interest for live, quality, first class cricket action from the top Test playing countries as well as content meticulously customised for Indian audiences, which is what STAR Cricket would strive to provide its viewers.”
Harsha Bhogle, renowned cricket commentator, said, “I believe STAR Cricket will be everything a cricket channel should be with a combination of live cricket and specially produced programming. I hope a real cricket lover will feel he is at home with STAR Cricket for he will get to see more than international cricket. I would like to believe we will present cricket with a conscience.”