Sony, now, is buzzing with action. After bagging telecast rights of all ICC cricket till 2007, channel is busy chalking out plans and packages. First up, in September and October this year, is 12 Nation ICC Champions Trophy. While the exact scheduling is being worked out, Sony plans to use both its channels, MAX and Sony Entertainment Channel (SET) to air this big event. This will scorch the rumour of Sony starting a dedicated sports channel.
Champions Trophy, formerly called ICC Knock-Out Cup, will feature 12 teams, including India. A total of 15 matches are planned including 2 semi finals and a final. The 12 teams will be divided into 4 pools, setting up 2 semi final matches amongst pool toppers.
Confirming the report, says Rajat Jain, Exec VP - SET MAX, “The Champions Trophy will air on MAX and Sony Entertainment Television. The exact slotting is being worked out. There will be the matches and the highlights, which will be distributed between MAX and SET.”
This announcement will put an end to rumours of Sony contemplating a separate Sports channel. Some media observers believed that a separate channel, to carry sports programming, would help establish clear identity, something missing from the current MAX positioning. Managing the economics of a separate channel, however, is a big issue. “No, we are not planning to launch a separate sports channel in the near future. We have MAX, which will be the primary vehicle for the live Cricket, and shall also air the cricket on SET, depending upon the schedules,” clarifies Jain.
It may be recalled that on 29th March, Sony had formally announced the acquisition of satellite telecast rights to all ICC cricket. The package, acquired for $255 mn, includes two World Cups, 3 Champions Trophy and Under 19 World Cups. To recover this substantial investment, marketing and ad sales packages, for the first event – ICC Champions Trophy, are being worked out. With numerous brands wanting to ride the cricket bandwagon and get associated with a truly international Cricket event, that should be something to look out for.