Total Sports Asia sets up shop in Dubai

MUMBAI: Sports marketing firm Total Sports Asia (TSA) is expanding its presence. It has set up an office in Dubai. The company is looking to organise two to three major events each year the scale of which will be bigger than the events it holds in India.

Speaking to on the same TSA MD India and Middle East Navneet Sharma says, "I have shifted base to the Middle East. Our office is at Dubai Media City. We will focus on large scale events, sports events and entertainment stuff. We will scale up operation as we go by."

Stating that Dubai is a market where if you get one or two projects, the scale could be big, Sharma says, "There will be more million dollar events there compared to India as small things do not work there. In India, we do eight to 10 properties. In Dubai, we will do two to three events each year which will be worth at least a couple of million dollars each.

"TSA will look at family oriented properties in terms of ticketed items. It is also looking at holding large entertainment exhibitions. Music and mechanics will be part of events. We are looking at events which could be held as part of the Dubai Shopping Festival and also looking to have a World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) tour in the Middle East.

"On the sports side, TSA is looking at triathlons and other running sports. It is also examining the possibility of taking Indian club football to the Middle East. After all 40 per cent of the population in Dubai is Indian. One possibility is taking Bhaichung Bhutia to Dubai and other Middle East countries for clinics."

As far as working with broadcasters is concerned, Sharma notes that TSA already has a strong relationship with Ten Sports which too has its head office in Dubai Media City. "We are looking to cement that relationship. Hopefully we can spread our expertise among the regional broadcaster as well. We are looking to push the International Badminton Federation in the Middle East."

Closer home in India, TSA is looking to work with news channels. For instance, during the soccer World Cup, it brokered a deal for Bhutia with CNN IBN. "We are suggesting to news channels on the utility of sports channels and how we can help them create programming that fits in well with the current environment. We had done a Bhutia deal with WorldSpace. They use him in short spurts and ask him soccer related questions. We also did a deal with DNA where his articles appeared.

"When the Champions trophy happens, every news chanel will do content around it. So we are coming up with ideas that can boost their profile. We are working on tailor made ideas for news channels. We are also in touch with NDTV. It could be archived programming or something that supports live chats."

As far as events are concerned, Sharma is confident about the adventure sports arena growing. "Earlier this year, it had organised the Mountain Dew Himalayan Challenge which saw people take part in adventure sports. Next year, the channel is looking to add skiing to the line up and the event will happen in January-February 2007.

"There were 90 entries. Three people were in each team during the Mountain Dew Challenge. Ten Sports aired the event in five episodes. Over the next two to three years, we are looking to get top level anchors who are knowlegeable about the adventure sports arena. We have also got a lot of corporate interest from companies.

"A four million dollar event, the channel is planning another adventure reality show for next year. This will have elements of strength and power in it and will be held in three cities. It is also looking to bring in squash in sometime in the future."

He adds that Total Sports Asia had helped Adidas with the organisation of the Adidas+ Challenge. "The logistics involved were humongous. We did the event in seven cities back to back."

This year, the Hungamathon will done again in association with Hungama TV. TSA is also looking to organise expositions on the retail side of sports and events like Futsal will return again.

A new area that TSA is looking at is organising concerts where it will organise concerts with major pop stars like Beyonce.

"As we have an Asian network, we can schedule the artistes tour across Asia. Pop music is a strong area to start with as we are confident of a healthy return and we are in talks with the agents of some major pop stars. The time slot being looked at is between December to February 2007. I don't think that getting down equipment for rock bands like U2 is a challenge. The challenge is that stars have fees and the profitability can be a risky proposition at times."

In terms of new properties for television distribution, he notes that rights for football properties like English Premier League will come up. "We are also looking at licensing opportunities for different platforms like mobile. Our sister concern, Max Entertainment handles all entertainment properties for licensing, mobile and television."

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