ESPN Star Sports comes aboard Zee's Dish DTH


NEW DELHI: The sceptics can gulp.

The ASC Enterprise and Zee combine promoted Dish TV direct-to-home (DTH) KU-band television service has signed a deal with ESPN Star Sports for carriage of the sports channels on the platform.

According to Zee Telefilms sources, the carriage deal was signed last week and the two sports channels have already made an appearance on the DTH platform that is marketed under the Dish TV brand name.

ESS' coming aboard could well pave the way for the Star Network and Sony-Discovery One Alliance channels to also join Dish.

Both ASC Enterprise, the DTH licence holder, and Zee Telefilms are companies promoted by Subhash Chandra.

However, at the moment, the full financial details are not known. What has been indicated is that the present carriage deal is valid for two years.

Contacted by indiantelevision.com, ESPN Software India MD R.C. Venkateish confirmed reaching a pact with Dish TV with a memorandum of understanding being signed on Saturday.

"As content providers, we are always looking out for platforms to have our content distributed. DTH is one such outlet and we expect that the (Zee/ASC) DTH platform would only add to our revenues and distribution reach," Venkateish explained.

Though Venkateish refused to spell out the commercial aspects of the deal in detail, he did admit that it would be valid for two years giving the managers of the DTH platform enough time to establish the service and increase penetration.

According to information available with indiantelevision.com, the complex DTH pact envisages, amongst other things, ESS being paid for the two sports channels a rate per subscriber that would be close to the price of Rs 32 announced by the broadcaster for CAS regions.

The deal also has provisions for ESS getting paid for a mutually agreed upon minimum number of DTH households after six months.

It is expected that with ESPN and Star Sports coming on board, Dish TV's saleability would increase, though, ideally, Dish TV management would also like to strike a deal with Ten Sports, which has the rights for the forthcoming India-Pakistan cricket series to be played in Pakistan, for carriage of that channel too on the DTH platform.

Meanwhile, indiantelevision.com also learns that more third-party channels are expected to be added to the Dish TV bouquet soon, raising the total number of channels from the existing 48, which includes the newly-introduced ESPN and Star Sports channels.

Pointing out that some technical upgradation would be needed to accommodate more channels, which had been announced as part of a second phase expansion, Zee Telefilms vice-chairman and head of Zee's cable arm Siti Cable, Jawahar Goel, said, "Getting more third-party channels is an on-going process and we are poised to bring in some more channels."

The Dish TV-ESS deal comes close on the heels of the house of Tatas announcing a 80:20 joint venture agreement with the Rupert Murdoch-controlled Star Group Pvt. Ltd. for a DTH service in India. The joint venture, however, is yet to submit a reworked application to the Indian government.

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