ESPN Start Sports, India's leading sports broadcaster, is looking beyond cricket to beef up its content in the conditional access system.
The channel has taken up soccer in a big way. R C Venkateish, managing director of ESPN Software India, the content providing company, said the channel will look at soccer, hockey, tennis and chess to expand its portfolio.
To begin with, ESPN will live telecast of two semi-finals and the final of IFA Shield. "There is lot of enthusiasm in soccer now. The hockey is revitalising and there is lot of viewers' interest about the game. We are committed to Indian sports and look for every good opportunity to participate," Venkateish said.
He pointed out content will play a critical role once CAS comes into play since viewers would have the option to choose among number of channels. Welcoming the CAS, he said ESPN was working with multi system operators to popularise the CAS.
"We are working with MSOs in Chennai where CAS has been launched and plan to carry this forward wherever it is introduced. The channel has created a budget for promotion of CAS," Venkateish informed.
Even though it turns attention to other sports, cricket remains the centre of activity and the biggest revenue grosser for the channel.
ESPN Star Sports have tie ups with most of international broadcaster and have rights of international cricket matches featuring India.
However, the broadcasting right of matches occurring on Indian soil remains with Doordarshan. The contract for this right will be renewed in 2004 and ESPN Star Sports is expected to bid for it.
Venkateish was in Kolkata to launch the all new weekly ESPN Cricket Show which will feature India cricket captain Sourav Ganguly.
Incidentally, Ganguly became the first playing cricket captain to host a cricket show. The programme will go on air on September 26.