Television

FIFA Cup to be aired live on ESPN Star Sports with Hindi commentary

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MUMBAI: ESPN Star Sports (ESS) announced that it would be having a special Hindi-programming package for the live and exclusive telecast of the FIFA Confederations Cup 2005.

Taking a cue from the success of introducing Hindi commentary during UEFA Euro 2004, ESS has extended mere Hindi commentary into a full Hindi flavour programming. The package will include live Hindi commentary, special preview and review show on all matches. However, English programming for Confederation Cup will continue as usual.

ESS has signed former international and chief coach East Bengal Subhash Bhowmick, eminent sports journalist Novy Kapadia and experienced commentator on football, Ghaus Mohammed for the live commentary and in-depth analysis during the preview and review shows on the FIFA Confederations Cup 2005.

ESS' own presenter and host for the Football Locker Room -- Sudhi Sachdev will host the preview and review shows.

ESPN Software India Pvt Ltd vice president sales and marketing Sricharan Iyengar said, "We soft launched Hindi with the telecast of the UEFA Euro 2004 championship last year. Hindi commentary helped us in further increasing penetration in traditional soccer markets. Hindi telecast also enabled us to open up several non-traditional markets for soccer, like UP, Gujarat, Punjab and so on, as testified by the viewership numbers of UEFA Euro 2004. We are clear that localisation adds a lot of value to our telecasts especially for viewers who find it difficult to understand the heavily accented English or for viewers who are not familiar with English at all."

"As a company we are ready to explore further localisation including multi-lingual commentary, including Bengali, for our telecast of the FIFA World Cup 2006. We will review our programming initiatives with the Confederations Cup very meticulously. The review will form the basis of our programming initiatives for the FIFA World Cup 2006," he added.

ESPN Software India Pvt LTD director corporate communications and event management group Himanshu Verma said, "Our marketing and localisation efforts have borne fruit. In EPL, we have been able to improve the acceptance of EPL teams. The number of markets, which have started recording 1+ rating for EPL, has increased. Key markets such as Mumbai, Kolkata have shown steady growth in viewership. Mumbai has recorded some very high numbers like 4.03 for a Liverpool vs Arsenal match and such examples are on a rise. Localisation through Hindi commentary during Euro 2004 paid dividends in the Hindi belt with average ratings of 2.20 in Orissa, 1.50 in Maharashtra, 0.86 in Punjab, 0.72 in MP, 0.71 in Gujarat and 0.52 in UP."

ESS launched a focused marketing campaign on 1 June to promote the FIFA Confederations Cup. Fifteen trams have donned the colors of Confederations Cup, across the length and breadth of Kolkata. Around 20 hoardings have been taken across the major towns of West Bengal like Siliguri, Burdwan, Baharampur, Krishnanagar and Asansol to spread the tournament fever. In addition the publicity campaign will be supported with print advertising, radio spots and consumer contests.

With all the concerted efforts of ESS, soccer viewership is seeing a steady growth in India. The telecast of The UEFA Euro 2004 championship last year on ESS has yielded great viewership numbers, said an official communiqué from the company.

Kolkata averaged 6.77 for all matches in the given period while the 9:30 pm matches averaged 10.56 in the city. Various marketing initiatives by ESS like painting the metros and trams with Euro images, posters, movie halls etc have definitely helped in pushing the numbers. The Portugal Greece Final did an astounding 16.7 in Kolkata, which is higher than the IFA Shield match between Mohun Bagan and East Bengal last year, making it the highest rated non-cricket program for ESS in this market, added the communiqué

ESS has recently signed an agreement with Infront Sports and Media (FIFA's exclusive television partner for the event), under which ESS will provide full and exclusive coverage of the 2006 FIFA World Cup including all 64 matches, in addition to the telecast of the FIFA Confederation Cup 2005, on its two channels ESPN and Star Sports. The FIFA Confederation Cup 2005 kicks off on 15 June and will showcase a bonanza of 16 matches including 12 round robin matches and two semifinal matches on 26 June. The final will be played in Frankfurt on 30 June, 2005.

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