MUMBAI: The Hockey India League, promoted by Hockey India
(HI) with the backing of International Hockey Federation (FIH),
is slowly gaining momentum as the organisers look to kick-off
the first edition in January next year.
the governing body of Hockey in India, has roped in ESPN Star
Sports as the broadcast partner for HIL in a five-year deal.
Besides, the broadcast rights for the league, ESS has also
bagged the rights for international hockey matches played
in India for a period of five years.
business conglomerate Sahara Indian Pariwar had announced
that it has taken the franchise rights for the Lucknow team.
Sahara is also the shirt sponsor of the Indian men's and women's
hockey team forking out Rs 400 million for a five-year deal
that runs till 2017.
has, thus, renewed its association with Hockey, a sport which
it tried to reinvigorate as far back as 2005 with Premier
League Hockey, which died a premature death since it could
not get the right business model.
refusing to divulge any details, HI secretary general Narinder
Batra said the association along with its marketing partner
Twenty First Century Media approached all major broadcasters.
is believed that Ten Sports was also in the fray for the rights.
approached all key players in sports broadcasting. However,
ESPN Star Sports gave us the best deal. Therefore, we decided
to work with them," Batra told Indiantelevision.com.
Sports, the sports broadcasting arm of Nimbus Communications,
was not in fray as its parent company Nimbus is the co-promoter
of World Series Hockey, a franchise-based league that has
often been termed as a rebel league.
world hockey governing body has approved the league and has
given a window so that international players will be available.
The league will comprise six franchise hockey teams and will
feature 33 hockey matches to be played in prime time in state-of-the-art
stadia across the country.
teams will play each other on a home and away basis (30 league
matches) followed by two semifinals and the final. ESS also
has the global broadcast rights to telecast at least five
international hockey test matches every year under Hockey
India to be played in India for the next five years. The number
of matches that India will play against international opposition
could go up depending on the finalisation of the series schedule.
proposed league (HIL) will be the biggest initiative that
hockey has ever seen in India. We have been working out the
details for months now and I am glad to announce that things
are quickly falling into place. I am confident that our partners
ESPN Star Sports will help us deliver a flawless world class
product," added Batra.
MD Peter Hutton is believed to be instrumental in getting
the deal through since he has been key follower of the game
and sees huge potential in the sport.
was part of the FIH's marketing committee, which advised the
world body on ways to promote Hockey and generate revenues.
Incidentally, Hutton is also believed to have been a key force
in doing the deal with FIH when he was in Taj Television,
which runs Ten Sports.
Sports, which began its partnership with FIH in 2005, holds
the broadcast rights for all FIH events in Indian subcontinent
is close to our heart and we will drive all our efforts to
make this league a success. We are also delighted to have
all international hockey test matches under Hockey India to
be played in India on our networks for a five year period.
I look forward to some memorable occasions and a new era for
Indian hockey," said Hutton.
developments at HIL will have implications for Indian Hockey
Federation's World Series Hockey, which held its first edition
earlier this year. The eight team tournament got off to a
decent start despite mounting pressure from FIH and HI, who
did not want the league to take off.
president RK Shetty, meanwhile, brushed aside suggestions
that HIL will kill WSH. "We have nothing to worry about
their (Hockey India) league, if they are doing this, it's
good for the game. It will open more opportunities for players.
As far as we are concerned, we are looking forward to the
second edition of World Series Hockey," Shetty asserted.
two leagues co-exist?
the owner of WSH's Delhi franchise, is optimistic about the
league format. Says director Sabbas Joseph, "Not enough
is done for hockey. If more promotions are done, it will grow
the sport's visibility and more sponsorship revenue will come
in. If we see an opportunity, then we would like to take part
in this league as well. More people and companies getting
active in hockey will increase the excitement around the sport.
I think that hockey is big enough to support two leagues."
adds that a certain amount of rivalry between the two leagues
would be healthy as long as the sport grows. The key is that
the conflict between hockey India and IHF should be resolved.
Maxus business head Jigar Rambhia is quite certain that only
one league will eventually survive. "The sport is not
that big in India as this stage. To further divide it by having
two leagues is not good for anybody. Next year will give us
an idea as to which is the stronger of the two leagues. Two
leagues also gives rise to confusion as to which league is
also thinks that the success of hockey leagues in India will
depend upon how India fares at the Olympic Games. "If
the team does well, then advertiser interest will pick up.People
do follow hockey, although this is not always reflected in
the numbers," he says.