Nimbus Sports Broadcast has signed a deal with STAR India to exclusively distribute its forthcoming bouquet of NEO Sports channels. At the same time, it has appointed Shashi Kalathil as CEO of its sports broadcasting business. Kalathil comes to Nimbus from the Tata Group and brings with him a wealth of experience across FMCG and telecom sectors. He is expected to join Nimbus in October 2006.
The first of the channels, the cricket centric NEO Sports, is set to be launched in the last quarter of 2006. This will be followed by NEO Sports Plus, a sports entertainment channel likely to be launched by the yearend. STAR India has exclusive distribution rights for these two channels till 2010 and will also distribute any future sports channels from the NEO Sports stable.
After extensive discussions with a number of interested parties, Nimbus chose STAR as its distribution partner based on the broadcaster’s market knowledge, quality of management team, distribution reach, and leadership position in India.
Harish Thawani, Chairman of Nimbus, said, “We are deeply impressed not just by the leadership and vision of STAR but also its strategy for NEO Sports’ comprehensive distribution needs. In the end, it was the strong track record of executing on its strategic plans that persuaded us to appoint STAR.”
With nearly 200 days of cricket every year lined up on NEO Sports, of which over 100 days will be live India cricket including all BCCI events and between three-four international series every year; NEO Sports is expected to reach a majority of the cable & satellite homes powered by STAR’s distribution reach.
Sameer Nair, CEO, STAR Entertainment India, said, “This deal underscores STAR’s commitment to distributing the most sought after content to our viewers throughout India. The robust cricket assets to be showcased on NEO Sports will ensure that our viewers can catch quality broadcasts of their favourite sporting events. NEO’s stable of sports channels will complement our existing bouquets, offering more breadth and depth to the viewer.”
Kalathil will have Scott Ferguson as his COO based in Singapore. Commenting on Kalathil’s induction, Thawani said, “I have known Shashi over the years as a client when he was at Pepsi. Apart from his obvious pedigree as a cutting-edge professional, he brings with him a level of integrity and values that are universally admired.”
Said Kalathil, “My mandate will be to lead a world class and passionate management team that has amazing depth in sports expertise, to achieve greater consumer focus and deliver outstanding value to NEO Sports’ advertisers and viewers through innovative use of technology.”
An official communiqué said: “Having served at Pepsi as Executive Director-Marketing, Kalathil is well versed in the running of a multi-thousand-crore business, complex distribution networks and, equally importantly, the advertiser’s perspective on sports, particularly cricket.”