ESS in 3-year deal with IHF for international match telecast

MUMBAI: Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) and sports broadcaster ESPN STAR Sports have signed a three year exclusive telecast deal for all international hockey matches, under the aegis of IHF, to be played in India.

Under the contract, ESS will broadcast and market 'IHF Hockey Package', including 102 international matches over the next 3 years. Any other hockey tournament, which the IHF launches in this period will also fall under the purview of this contract and will be telecast exclusively by the channel.

IHF has announced the tentative schedule of the teams, which will be visiting India over the year. Teams, which might visit India will include South Korea, Malaysia, Spain, Australia, Pakistan, New Zealand and Germany. ESS will telecast 102 international matches including a 5 test series against arch rival Pakistan over the next three years., an official release said.

ESPN STAR Sports will work on a comprehensive marketing plan to promote 'IHF Hockey Package'. Leisure Sports Management (LSM), the marketing agency of IHF, has facilitated the deal between the two leading organizations.

"We are looking at growing the game's popularity in a very systematic manner. Last year we launched PHL. This year we are taking a holistic approach to market the national team and international hockey better. The entire process of scheduling and then showcasing the hockey tournaments is being systematized. Carrying the process further, we will release the names of countries visiting India well in advance, which will help in better marketing and selling of the tournaments," said IHF president KPS Gill.

ESPN Software India MD R C Venkateish said, "Our role in this deal will be more than mere telecasting. Besides continuing to innovate on our current hockey telecast, we will market the hockey players and the sport better. We will leverage our relationships with IHF and hockey players by integrating the discipline much more into our over all marketing programs and specific initiatives like ESPN Learning Grounds for schools, and so on."

Tentative IHF schedule for July 2005 - June 2006

No. Series
1 India South Korea/Malaysia Tests
2 4 nation double header
3 India - Spain/Germany Tests
4 India - Pakistan Tests in India
5 India - NZ/Australia Series

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