Zee Sports looking to take NFL to Mumbai, Ludhiana in March

MUMBAI: One of Zee Sports' biggest properties of the year the National Football League (NFL) which is being organised by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) is looking to spread the reach of the game by having matches in other venues.

Speaking to Zee Sports marketing VP Gaurav Seth says that it is looking to have matches in Mumbai and Ludhiana. "This will happen when the second phase kicks off in March 2006. We also took the decision to reduce the numbers of teams participating from 12 to 10. This was done to have a greater degree of focus in terms of only having the best players."

However for the first phase there is going to be a reworking of the schedule in Kolkatta. That is because the original venue has another event happening. Seth says that details will be known in a few days time. Also the NFL did not get off to the best of starts.

The opening ceremony was marred by Bengal's Chief Minister coming in late and supposedly interrupting a performance by pop star Shaan who was peeved. While this and other security hassles that happened are obviously not Zee Sports' fault Seth says that it is all a learning experience. Seth also says that in addition to the title sponsor of the NFL ONGC the channel is looking to finalise deals with two associate sponsors.

Seth is also confident of viewership and on the ground attendance picking up. When teams play warm up matches it takes a little while for fans to warm up as well. Once they do however the stadiums will be buzzing with activity says Seth.

What will help is the marketing that is being done for the matches. For instance in Mumbai a lot of hoardings have sprung up. Zee Sports took front page ads in The Times Of India. Also there has been a fair bit of coverage by sports journalists on the NFL.

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