After picking up rights for the FIFA World Cup soccer, the Abdul Rehman Bukhatir promoted TEN Sports has now signed up with Formula 1 to beam the races in India.
Starting with this Sunday''s race at the A1 Ring at Austria - TEN will show all the remaining 12 races this season as well as qualifying, live from the events. TEN sports will also beam live the first of Narain Kartikayan''s races in the World Series from Spain. Following Narain''s first race will be live coverage of Formula, then the second of Narain''s races. According to Peter Hutton, Vice President Programming and Events, TEN Sports, "We are building up a solid bedrock of high quality content to support our exclusive live World Cup deal - whether that be Formula 1, WWF, live cricket from Sri Lanka, Sharjah and Morocco or the variety of other exclusive product.
Since ESPN Star Sports also has the rights for Formula 1 the races will be screened simultaneously on both channels (Ten sports and Star Sports) but with different commentary of course.
Though the exact duration of the deal is unknown but sources at TEN Sports put it as a long-term deal.
What''s more TEN Sports as part of the their tie up with Manchester United TV will also screen all the games played by the club. To start with the English premiership game between Manchester United and Arsenal to decide the title was beamed on TEN Sports last night, which is also being screened on ESPN Star Sports. Adds Hutton, "TEN Sports, we will screen every Manchester United game for the next 2 seasons as well as a minimum of 3 hours of other programming from the club channel including classic matches, news etc."
Though the FIFA World Cup is just a few weeks away the market is abuzz with rumours about advertisers shying away from the event. Not many details are forthcoming from the company though. Rukin Kizilbash, Head Advertising Sales for the channel when contacted by exchange4media was non-committal on sharing information. Peter Hutton though says, "Advertising sales for the World Cup are well on course and we should be sold out before the first kick off".
One thing is for sure though. Whether advertisers come to the channel in the short term or not, TEN Sports is starting to make its presence felt by picking up high visibility sports properties. With the rights of future India cricket series up for grabs ESPN surely will have tough competition.