Ten Sports bags international hockey rights

MUMBAI: Not too long after renewing its deal for the ratings buster World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Ten Sports has added another feather in its cap - international hockey.

The broadcaster has signed a contract with the International Hockey Federation (FIH), the world governing body for field hockey.

With this agreement, Ten Sports has secured the rights in the Indian sub-continent, the Middle East and Hong Kong for both the men's and women's World Cup, to be held in Monchengladbach, Germany, and Madrid, Spain, in September 2006, as well as the men's and women's Champions Trophy through year 2008.

Taj Television CEO Chris McDonald said, "Hockey has a massive following in the Sub-continent and is easily the most popular sport after cricket. With our acquisition of the cream of the FIH events, Ten Sports remains the premier sports channel for hockey fans."

Taj Television V-P programming Peter Hutton said, "It is great news for us to be able to show the men's and women's hockey World Cups for the first time, and to be able to say with confidence that we have all the best hockey events for years to come."

FIH president Els van Breda Vriesman commented, "Ten Sports has shown loyalty and commitment to FIH and our major international hockey events since our first partnership with them that began three years ago. I am delighted that we are able to continue our partnership.

FIH marketing manager Steven Morris said,"This is FIH's first television distribution deal since we took control of our rights earlier this year.

"Financially it is the highest value ever for FIH and it also carries with it significant minimum broadcast commitments from Ten Sports to guarantee extensive exposure of our sport in the territories. Its increased value reflects the investment that FIH has made in its television production and standard of major events in recent years."

The Sahara Hockey Champions Trophy for men will be played in Chennai, India, this year from 10-18 December. The women's Samsung Hockey Champions Trophy is scheduled for November 26-December 4 in Canberra, Australia. In August 2005, Ten Sports will also telecast the much anticipated eight-Nations Invitational tournament from Amstelveen, Holland.

Ten Sports further states that it has been a major supporter of hockey ever since its launch in April 2002. Ten Sports acquired the rights of Champions Trophy that year, and also telecast the four-nations tournament from Holland in 2004.

How rival ESPN Star Sports, which through its Premier Hockey League (season one is now over) has spent serious money in pushing hockey at the grasroots level in India, responds to this development will be watched closely.

The schedule of FIH hockey events on Ten Sports is as follows

Date Event Venue  
14-21, August 2005 8-Nations Invitational Amstelveen (Holland)  
26 Nov - 4 Dec, 2005 Women's Samsung Hockey Champions Trophy Canberra (Australia)  
10-18 Dec, 2005 Men's Sahara Hockey Champions Trophy Chennai (India)  
6-17 Sep, 2006 BDO Hockey World Cup Monchengladbach (Germany)  
27 Sep - 7 Oct 2006 Rabobank Hockey World Cup Madrid (Spain)  

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