ESPN Star Sports bags Asia Cup telecast rights

MUMBAI: ESPN Star Sports (ESS) has bagged the worldwide rights for telecasting the 9th Asia Cup from the Asian Cricket Council (ACC).

The rights include global exclusive television broadcast of the tournament, radio broadcast and on-ground sponsorships. The Asia Cup, which is to be played between India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Oman, will be held in Pakistan from 16 - 28 February 2006.

ESPN Software India Pvt. Ltd managing director R C Venkateish said, "The Asia Cup has now become an integral part of the international cricket calendar, and after the success we had with the last tournament, we hope that this year’s Asia Cup will give the fans the same thrilling viewing experience. The cricket in Pakistan will be highly competitive and the batsman-friendly conditions should make for a high-scoring Asia Cup event."

"Our world-class telecast of the Asia Cup will include preview and review shows, special innovations, graphics, special interviews, reports and the ESPN Star Sports commentary team of the ‘Few Good Men’ who will be back to enthuse and captivate our audience. In addition we are working on special initiatives to substantially boost the value we provide to our viewers, which will be announced in a few days," added Venkateish.

Asian Cricket Council CEO Syed Ashraful Huq said, "We’re extremely pleased to announce our partnership with ESPN Star Sports for the forthcoming Asia Cup. They have consistently delivered quality cricket coverage with the highest production values to fans across key territories in Asia, showcasing the sport at its finest. The Asia Cup’s success in 2004 was largely due to all the partnerships that we had forged, and ESS was a valuable contributor to the success of that event. We continue our commitment to develop the best cricket in the Asian continent and hope that this year in Pakistan, the cricket will be as exciting as ever. The Asia Cups have a habit of producing some tremendously exciting cricket."

ESS executive vice president Manu Sawhney said, "We at ESPN Star Sports continue to deliver world-class must-see programming to viewers across Asia. Securing the rights to the Asia Cup is an affirmation of our commitment to Asian cricket and reinforces our goal of taking the growing number of Asian cricketing nations to the next level of competition and onto the world’s stage. We believe in Asian cricket and see a strong future for it. There are already several Asian cricket powerhouses and others are coming into their own."

With the acquisition of the 2006 Asia Cup, ESS has further strengthened its programming line up. The sports broadcaster already holds broadcast rights for the FIFA World Cup 2006, FIFA Confederations Cup 2005, as well as multi-year deals for Wimbledon, F1 and A1 Grand prix, Moto GP and the US Open Golf.

ESS recently strengthened its wrestling portfolio with the acquisition of TNA Wrestling and Pride FC. It has also signed a four year deal with Azlan Shah Hockey tournament and signed a three year exclusive deal with Indian Hockey Federation for all international matches to be played in India under the aegis of IHF.

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