After Pakistan, Ten Sports bags Windies TV rights

MUMBAI: After Pakistan cricket, Dubai-based Ten Sports has added exclusive telecast rights for West Indies cricket for the next five years to its kitty. The reported combined cost of both acquisitions is around $50 million

The West Indies rights is for all telecast in the Asian market. The rights were previously with ESPN Star Sports.

The West Indies deal was signed on Monday, Taj Television Ltd (Ten Sports' holding company) CEO Chris McDonald told Taj has reportedly won the rights from Rupert Murdoch's Sky Broadcasting. Although just signed, the deal takes effect from March 2004 when England tour the West Indies.

As reported earlier on, Ten won the Pakistan cricket rights in March. Ten Sports beat out bids from Transworld International (TWI) - who previously held the telecast rights - ESPN Star Sports and World Sport Nimbus to seal the Pakistan deal. The deal signed between the Pakistan Cricket board (PCB) and Taj TV gives Ten rights to all international matches hosted by the PCB for five years from April 2003 till the end of 2008.

With West Indies in the bag, Ten Sports holds the rights for all the major non-White cricket nations, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the West Indies (India cricket rights are with national broadcaster Doordarshan). Additionally there is Sharjah and Morocco, both of which are one-day centres that belong to Taj promoter Abdurrahman Bukhatir.

Elaborating on the implications on the latest rights acquisition and other issues, McDonald says, "We are now the number one channel on sports in India, and that includes cricket." McDonald pointed out that Ten Sports alone would show a total of 213 one-day international cricket matches over the next four years while ESPN and Star Sports would have a combined total of 213 matches.

Ten expects to capitalise on the resurgence that hockey is witnessing in India with the national squad having won back-to-back tourneys in Australia and Germany. Coming up next month is the live telecast of the Champions Trophy being held in The Netherlands. There is also the Olympic qualifying tourney in early 2004, McDonald said.

Admittedly though, it is the WWE wrestling that provides Ten with its daily ratings fix. McDonald said Ten hoped to get in another WWE tour into the country this year as was done last year (in November).

Commenting on a post-CAS scenario, McDonald said Ten's pricing of Rs 14 was less than half of what was being charged by ESPN or Star Sports (Rs 29 each). In such a scenario, Ten would become a far more attractive option for the consumer than the competition, McDonald asserts.

Click here for comparision of sports rights held by ESPN Star Sports and Ten Sports

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