ESPN STAR Sports unveiled a major initiative to promote Hindi cricket commentary by deciding to that the last five matches of the Indian Oil Asia Cup, to be held in Sri Lanka from July 16, will be broadcast in Hindi on STAR Sports and in English on ESPN. Indian Oil will be the principal sponsor of the Asia Cup. ESPN STAR Sports has roped in former Pakistani captain and one of the greatest fast bowlers of all time, Waqar Younis, as a commentator for the Asia Cup telecast.
RC Venkateish, Managing Director, ESPN Software India, said, “Hindi commentary on STAR Sports will help us increase the penetration of our channels further and extend the enjoyment of our high quality telecast among aspirational Hindi viewers. Simultaneous telecast of live matches on two channels is a first of its kind initiative and we are proud to be tailoring our telecast to suit our viewers. We will also bring greater interactivity during the Indian Oil Asia Cup.”
Venkateish further said that the ‘Unique Programming Strategy’ for the Indian Oil Asia Cup would take cricket broadcasting to the “next level of viewer entertainment” and significantly enhance value for advertisers. As the last five matches will be telecast on both STAR and ESPN, advertisers will derive greater value as they will be able to place their advertising on both channels catering to English as well as Hindi audiences.
NG Kannan, Director-Marketing, Indian Oil, said, “Indian Oil has identified cricket as a primary driver in our branding activities and our sponsorship of the Indian Oil Asia Cup is the first of a wide range of initiatives to showcase our brands. Our brands not only have a dominant market share, but they are also image leaders in whichever segment they are present,” he said.
The cricket telecast on STAR Sports will have an independent character and it will not be a mere Hindi adaptation of the English version. Only the lunch show “Shaz and Waz” will be common to the two channels.
The STAR Sports Hindi cricket telecast will be called ‘Voice Aapki-Choice Aapki’. For the first time the concept of a special host and anchor will be introduced during the Indian Oil Asia Cup. Venkateish announced that Shekhar Suman will play the role of an anchor and also act as an interface between the channel and the viewer on ‘Voice Aapki-Choice Aapki’ which will feature mega stars of cricket.
ESPN STAR Sports will be launching many new features during the Asia Cup, including ‘The Pitch Doctor’, which will make pitch reporting more accurate with the help of sophisticated equipment; ‘Played Up Close and Personal’, which will use caricatures of all participating players; and the new look ‘Shaz and Waz’ which will be a full lunch show rather than being just a filler.