ESS adds Brazilian feather to its Soccer cap

MUMBAI: It may have lost the fight to bag the cricket rights in India, but when it comes to football ESPN Star Sports (ESS) is moving full steam ahead.

Earlier this year it had announced that it had acquired the rights to the most important football event: the 2006 Fifa World Cup. Now it has announced that it has secured the rights to Brazilian football for the year.


The acquisition will see ESS showcase 64 regular season matches from the Brazilian Championship, the Brazilian Cup and the Paulista League. ESS will telecast 64 soccer matches from Brazil this year starting March 05 from the three premium tournaments - 'Paulista league', 'Brazilllian Cup' and 'Brazillian Championship'. Besides the telecast of matches, the network will also telecast 46 half-hour highlights package.

ESS already has the English Premier League (EPL), the Spanish Primera Liga, the Uefa Champion's League, the Uefa Cup, the FA Football Package and the Asian Football Confederation package in its kitty.



ESPN Software India VP Sricharan Iyenger said, "We have acquired Brazilian football to further build our status as the home of soccer in India. Over many years we have steadily invested in soccer to grow its popularity and bring a variety of soccer to fans in India. The range of soccer has been as wide as EPL to IFA Shield. Our acquisition of Brazilian football will add more variety.

"Brazil has an exciting and a robust soccer itinerary at the state and national level. Most of the Brazilian national squad plays in the Brazilian Cup and the Championships. And the leagues are long and interesting giving exciting soccer to fans round the year. We plan to continue our efforts to familiarie our viewers with the Brazilian acquisition."

Sports fans here get to watch ten matches each competition week including a line-up of programming that covers predictions, highlights, news and information as well as pre- and post-game analysis. By the close of the season, sports viewers in India would have seen up to 380 league matches compared to the previous 165.

ESPN Software India director, corporate communications and event management Himanshu Verma said, "There has been a steady increase in viwership for soccer. EPL for instance has grown at the rate of 21 per cent. This has happened because of an increase in the number of matches showcased and the publicity push.

"During Euro 2004 we also realised that localising content also played a major role in increasing viewership. Our first experiment with Hindi commentary also opened new markets for international soccer. We will continue to localise content and bring-in innovations to further boost popularity of soccer and all other sports."

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