Ten Sports beefs up programming with football

MUMBAI: While the media focus in the past few weeks has been on who will get the rights for India cricket and on DD's Olympic coverage, Ten Sports has been quietly going about the business of strengthening its programme line up.

One of the sports that Ten is banking on to bring in the ratings in a major way is football. The channel has been chasing down the rights to properties from different regions.

Speaking to, Ten Sports VP programing Peter Hutton said, "We have made a number of football acquisitions recently. They include Brazilian, Argentinian, Italian, German and Portugese football. This means that we now have regular action from the best national teams in the world.

"In addition, every week we will showcase action from three of the last four Champions League winners. They are AC Milan, Bayern Munich and holders FC Porto"

It may be recalled that Ten had used the Fifa World Cup 2002 as a launching pad. It then moved onto the FA Cup and Copa America. The latter had aired live on the channel earlier this year.

However, Hutton went on to note that because football receives little sponsor support, the acquisition price was, if anything, falling. The story is the opposite when one talks of the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) which is arguably the main draw on the channel week in and week out. "Because of the dominant daily ratings for WWE, it shouldn't be a surprise that the price for these rights are increasing," Hutton said.

On the cricket front as had been reported earlier by, Ten recently secured the rights for Sri Lanka cricket. It also has the rights to cricket coming from West Indies, Pakistan, Sharjah and Morocco.

The Bukhatir-owned broadcaster is also looking to build up hockey. It will air a series between arch rivals India and Pakistan next month. Hutton expressed confidence on the ratings front here despite India's poor performance at the Olympics.

Hutton also countered this writer's observation that Ten was lagging behind in terms of presentation and packaging when one looked at what rivals ESPN Star Sports (ESS) did for Euro 2004 and what Max had done in the past for Champions Trophy. In fact, Hutton claimed that Ten Sports' on-air presentation and packaging was much better than what the other sports channels were doing.

"Our programme innovations such as the wandering reporter in the crowds when India toured Pakistan, new cricket graphics technology, programme titles, the music we utilise, and the creativity behind the editing and scripts is quite strong. Other channels which rehash footage endlessly in various programmes and promos are not improving presentation or packaging in my definition of the words. It basically comes down to the need for other channels to fill up a lot of space."

Drawing a comparison with ESS Hutton noted that there was a great deal of filler product on those two channels which rates poorly. "Ten Sports as a singular channel generates far more rating points than ESPN and Star Sports combined. We have consistently secured more than 55 per cent of the sports viewing market."

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