It was a hectic and suspenseful Sunday yesterday for both Zee Telefims and ESPN-STAR as both parleyed with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for the multi-million-dollar cricket telecast rights for all international cricket in India over the next four years. Having finally bagged the rights at $308 million, Zee Telefilms is now all set to seal the mega deal in the next 48 hours and push ahead with its plans to set up a separate sports channel.
Speaking to exchange4media, Ashish Kaul, Vice-president, Corporate Brand Development, Essel Group, which owns the Zee channels, said “we will sign the contract with BCCI in the next 48 hours” after paying the initial deposit of $20million sought by the Cricket Board as a pre-condition to finalisation of the contract.
Kaul further said that the new sports channel will be launched on October 2, and Zee Telefilms is going to invest around Rs 150 crore in this project. “It wil be a stand-alone channel, either on our own or in partnership,” he said. He disclosed that Turner Broadcasting Corporation of the US had “offered to partner Zee” for the planned sports channel. Turner is closely involved in sports programming, mainly NBA League and soccer.
As for the critical question of christening the new channel, Kaul said “it will be decided tomorrow (Tuesday)”. Among the names being considered are: Zee Sports, Sports Zee, Alpha Sports, or simply Sportz, he informed.