Ten Sports apparently seems to be on a spree to make some more out of India–Pakistan sports. While it was the Samsung Cup India–Pakistan Series, some time back, now it is the India–Pakistan Hockey series. As announced by the Pakistan Hockey Federation, the channel has won exclusive rights to air the forthcoming India–Pakistan Hockey series.
Speaking on this, Peter Hutton, Vice President, Programming, Ten Sports, informs, “This is an important development for us. In terms of establishing Ten Sports further as an entity in India, this series takes forward what we created with the Indo-Pak cricket series.”
He shares that hockey as a property is gaining recognition with the Indian audience, “We have experienced two years of hockey now. If you were to look at it even from the point of view of numbers, the sport itself has grown in this much time in India. While it is not cricket, it still is big enough in its own way.”
What does the eight-day series mean to the channel? “The countries are facing each other after a four-year gap. The excitement around the tournament itself in both the countries is high. This should increase the excitement around the matches and that should translate into numbers,” he replies.
The selling of the property has not begun yet but the channel has high expectations. Hutton expresses, “Hockey has grown to a level where it is not only the Indian sponsors now who show interest but many international names like Samsung and other brands from different categories that want to be associated with the sport. We have seen that happen already, so this time too, we expect a good advertiser response.”
According to the schedule announced, the first four matches would be played in Pakistan and the rest in India. The first match will be played on September 24 in Karachi, while the following three will be played in Quetta on September 27, at Peshawar on September 29, and in Lahore on October 1.
Following this, the rest of the matches will be played on October 4, 6, 8 and 10 at Chandigarh, New Delhi, Hyderabad and Bangalore respectively.
The Samsung Cup had delivered well for the channel. The only glitch perhaps was the order to telecast all matches simultaneously on DD. As far as the forthcoming hockey series is concerned, though there is still time to see how things shape, hockey is no cricket. And whether it does throw numbers for the channel, is something we have to wait and watch.