With ICC Champions Trophy all set to be staged in September, Sony Entertainment Television (SET) and its allied channel, Max, is looking to push distribution of the pre-dominantly Hindi entertainment channels in the southern states, which have a huge audience for cricket.
It has signed a long-term deal with Asianet in Kerala and with Sumangali Cable Vision (SCV) in Tamil Nadu. In Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, it is looking at a big thrust on independent multi-systems operators to drive the numbers.
The Sony Entertainment Network, which has acquired the exclusive Cable and Satellite (C&S) TV rights for the live telecast of all ICC cricket tournaments being held from 2002 to 2007 - which includes two World Cups - is betting that cricket will consolidate its position and ratings in Southern India.
The former India Captain, Kapil Dev, has been roped in as brand ambassador to advise the network on its cricketing initiatives.
The network kicked off its distribution campaign for the south with an event involving Kapil Dev and cable operators in Chennai recently. In Tamil Nadu the SET-Max combine has a penetration of 70 per cent of the approximately 3 million C&S homes. It hopes that the cricket edge will give it a 100 per cent penetration. In other southern states too it is planning on-ground events around Kapil Dev like sports contests and cricket matches involving cable operators to increase awareness about the channel and its cricket focus.