Star Sports is leaving no stone unturned to create buzz around the Hero Hockey India League (HHIL). The tournament, which has five franchised teams taking part, commenced on January 14, 2013.
Insisting that sports and not cricket is the first love for Star Sports, Aloke Malik, Managing Director, ESPN Software India remarked, “Cricket is one of the sports. We are very bullish about the future of hockey and the Hero Hockey India League. We believe that hockey as a game has the pull as well as the potential to become a prominent number two sport in the country after cricket.”
However, curiously, former cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu has been roped in as brand ambassador for HHIL.
When pointed out that previous ventures to make hockey glamourous and raise the game to league status had received lukewarm response, Malik maintained, “As far as HHIL is concerned, it is being sanctioned by the Federation of International Hockey (FIH) and has a special window where international players can participate, which makes a big difference. This is the best of Indian and international talent available for participation in HHIL.”
Talking about the marketing and investment on the League, he said, “Star Sports is spending Rs 20 crore to build up this campaign and another Rs 50 crore on prize money, franchise, player acquisition, operation cost and other investments. This spend is for one year alone, so understand that the business is coming into hockey.”
The channel has launched a high decibel promotional campaign for HHIL across platforms with the core theme of ‘Ladoh toh aise’ or ‘Fight like this’.