Television

ESS locks in Uefa Champions League rights till 2009

MUMBAI: Sports broadcaster ESPN Star Sports (ESS) continues to assert its supremacy in the international football arena. It has renewed the rights to Europe's premier football league, the Uefa Champions League, for several territories, including India, in Asia.

The new three-year agreement ensures that both ESPN and Star Sports will continue to televise the property through to the 2008-09 season. It also represents the continuation of a 13-year partnership between ESS and Uefa that has seen viewership for the League on the Asian sports network maintain a healthy upward trend year after year.

Under the terms of the new deal, ESS gets exclusive live broadcast rights of the event in Hong Kong and China in addition to retaining cable and satellite rights across the network's South East, North Asian territories and India. This agreement has also been expanded to include internet and broadband rights in a reflection of the evolving trends in sport viewing.

ESS has a strong football line up which includes the World Cup rights for the Indian subcontinent, English Premier League, FA Cup, England Team home matches.

Says ESS Asia MD Jamie Davis, "The renewal of our partnership with Uefa is of vital strategic importance as we continue to offer unparalleled sports programming to viewers across Asia through traditional and new media platforms. This new multi-year commitment will insure that we can invest more resources to further develop the Uefa Champions League's brand and promote it to the fans across Asia. Our plans to enhance the broadcast and interactivity of the matches will provide the audience with coverage like they have never seen before."

ESS will provide season-long coverage from the early group stages through to the final which along with a range of support programming covering news, previews, player interviews and highlights shows. Factors such as the clubs' unpredictable domestic performances coupled with colourful on and off the pitch drama have driven ratings, capturing larger audience shares in several markets with each passing season. In some metered markets, ratings have surpassed even the top cable programmes on other news, documentaries and action channels.

The broadcaster adds that at the close of the 2004-2005 season, viewership for the Uefa Champions League on ESS had shown an increase of 3.4 per cent from the previous year, taking the total number of viewers in Asia well over the 100 million mark.

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