ESS signs four year deal for Azlan Shah hockey

MUMBAI: After taking great pains to localise hockey in the country with Premier Hockey League (PHL) the question was how ESPN Star Sports (ESS) would leverage the interest that the tournament generated.

Well the broadcaster has acquired the rights for the 14th Azlan Shah Cup Hockey tournament. The event kicks off in Kuala Lumpur from 26 May 2005.


The broadcaster has entered into a four year agreement with Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) for the broadcast rights of the premier hockey tournament. India will open their Azlan Shah Hockey campaign with a match against South Africa on the first day of the seven-nation tournament on 26 May.

Apart from India, Australia, Pakistan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand and South Africa will compete in the round-robin format of the tournament that ends with the final on June 5. The tournament will kick off with a match between Pakistan and New Zealand. The much-anticipated India-Pakistan encounter will take place on 1 June 2005.



There will be special Hindi commentary with expert comments from Jagbir Singh, former Assistant Coach of the Indian hockey team. Jagbir played an important role of familiarizing viewers with rules of hockey during the PHL telecast. Jagbir?s style of demystifying strategies of various teams was well appreciated by viewers and game analysts alike. Along with Partho Mukherjee and Darian Shahidi, Jagbir will be back for commentary on the Azlan Shah tournament and special 30-minute pre and post-match analysis shows.

ESS India MD R C Venkateish said, ?We are delighted to have picked up the broadcasting rights for the prestigious Azlan Shah Cup. With the entertaining telecast of PHL, we have proven the excitement, which can be added to hockey with localization. Viewers can expect a similarly entertaining treatment for the Azlan Shah matches as well.

"After the telecast of India-Pakistan ?Dosti? series, India-Spain and PHL, this is a major hockey tournament viewers will be able to watch on our channels. We will continue to add value to our hockey coverage as we have done with our cricket telecast.?

Malaysian Hockey Federation president Duli-Yang-Teramat-Mulia Raja Dr Nazrin Shah says, ?It is our pleasure to be associated with the leading sports broadcaster of the region. ESPN STAR Sports has taken hockey broadcast to a completely new level with the recent experiment of PHL. We expect nothing less for the Azlan Shah Cup also and we are confident that the popularity of Azlan Shah Cup Hockey will only grow with this association.?

In the previous edition, India had finished last while Australia won the title. Pakistan was the losing finalist and South Korea bagged the bronze. With the game of hockey gaining popularity and other important tournaments round the corner, Azlan Shah is bound to attract viewer attention.

Last year, ESS had showcased the India-Pakistan and India-Spain test series. This was followed by the broadcasters? foray into the earlier mentioned PHL.

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