MUMBAI: With a lot of live sports content at its disposal, Star India is gearing up to launch a new sports channel under the Star Sports brand on 11 March.
Christened Star Sports 2, the channel will have international football as its driver content. It will also show other sports content.
Star has the broadcast rights to football properties like English Premier League, Spanish league La Liga and Italian league Serie A for India besides FA Cup rights.
"Yes, we are launching a new sports channel on 11 March. Star Sports 2 will primarily have international football content besides other sports content," Star India COO Sanjay Gupta tells Indiantelevision.com.
The channel will be initially available on digital cable networks and will be subsequently rolled out on analog cable networks across the country.
Star is launching the new channel to avoid overlapping of cricket content with other sports content. The problem only accentuates when India cricket is on as the broadcaster has a bi-lingual feed in English and Hindi on Star Sports and Star Cricket.
It will also help the broadcaster to streamline the scheduling of its different properties.
"We have a lot of sports content, so at times we are unable to utilise this content when there are multiple events lined up simultaneously," Gupta explains.
The broadcaster has dedicated supply of cricket content throughout the year as it holds the media rights for three cricket boards, India, Australia and England, in addition to the ICC rights. Besides cricket and football, Star also boasts of rights to properties like Formula One, MotoGP, Wimbledon, Australian Open in Tennis, and PGA Tour.
News Corps, which had last year acquired ESPN‘s stake in joint venture ESPN Star Sports (ESS) for $335 million, had restructured its sports broadcasting business in Asia. While the India business was brought under Star India, the rest of Asia business came under Fox Star Sports Asia under Peter Hutton.
Subsequently, the ESPN brand name was dropped across Asia except India where Star is awaiting government clearance on the ESS acquisition before taking a call on change of brand name.
"We have still not decided what we will do with ESPN. We are considering both Fox as well as Star brand name. However, a final call is yet to be taken," Gupta discloses.