RayMedia in talks with broadcasters for Davis Cup tie

MUMBAI: This should be a good test of whether Indian broadcasters have the gumption to look beyond Sachin and Saurav. London's RayMedia which has all TV rights to the Davis Cup tennis competition for India is talking with four Indian broadcasters.

The event in question is the India Vs Holland World Group Qualifying Round. The tie takes place in Holland at Zwolle on 19, 20 and 21 September. The event is billed as the biggest tennis engagement for the year.

RayMedia's founder-director Ashis Ray said: "If the 2001 Asia/Oceania Zone India-Japan tie from Tokyo is any guide, the TV audience for the India-Holland tie has the potential of approaching non-India matches in the 2003 cricket World Cup."

TAM data indicates that tennis is gradually building a loyal fan following. The French Open, which historically has enjoyed a relatively smaller following in India doubled its TVR and attracted 7.8 million for the women's semi-finals and 7.9 million viewers for the men's final on DD Metro this year. The broadcast was, for the first time, publicised and presented by RayMedia by virtue of the "Doordarshan RayMedia Partnership".

Ray added: " This year's extensive and prominent coverage of the French Open and Wimbledon in Indian newspapers and on Indian TV news, indicates a significant increase in consumer demand for tennis in India. This also includes getting women hooked in a big way."

Leander Paes and company will face the surprise French Open runner up Martin Verkerk. In the past three years, Doordarshan secured all live rights to the Davis Cup from RayMedia, with Zee TV (in 2000) or Sony Entertainment Television (in 2001) getting highlights rights.

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