ESS `registers' double digit growth in Asia

NEW DELHI: Controversies surrounding Indian cricket rights notwithstanding, advertiser confidence in ESPN Star Sports' programming strategy and integrated advertising solutions remained intact Asia-wide in 2005.

Pointing out that Asia's leading sports network, ESPN Star Sports, has registered double digit growth, an official statement claimed that the network witnessed 50 per cent increase in overall advertising revenues and 20 per cent surge in non-football programming revenue.

Elaborating on the outlook for the network, ESS managing director Jamie Davis was quoted in the statement as saying, "We have set the standard as far as delivering integrated advertising solutions to clients on the back of some of the biggest and most watched sports properties. What we do especially well is ensure strong and measurable brand association throughout the period of a client's sponsorship."

Looking ahead, according to Davis, 2006 will be a year of "great opportunity" for the company.

"We are exploring new programming initiatives as well as delivery options to provide the best sports content to viewers any time, any place and through any pipe and any device. We expect to raise the bar in sports television even higher in Asia," Davis said in the statement from Singapore.

ESS introduced integrated advertising in 1999, which has resulted in "overall advertising revenues more than doubling" since 2003, and now extend over a wide spectrum of sporting events and media on the sports network's platforms across the region.

From 8 per cent of total advertising revenues in 2002, integrated solution-based sales now account for more than half of the total advertising revenues in 2005.

In fact, the statement further claimed, ESS' ability to deliver a high degree of value through the widest array of acquired programming and original productions is translating to an "increase in sponsorship renewals and repeat advertisers," while attracting a variety of fresh new brands.

Returning sponsors such as Tiger Beer and Toshiba have seen significant brand recognition, brand recall and measurable results through their sponsorship of the English Premier League (EPL), while Toyota's association with SportsCenter, the network's flagship news show, has delivered the audiences and the ratings, the release said.

The total numbers of advertisers on the network also grew by 10 per cent each year since 2003 and include Malaysia Airlines, IBM, Johnny Walker, O2 and Volvo.

Of significance is the fact that advertising revenue from non-EPL programming is also on an upward trend, in line with the audience ESS channels capture and which are reflected in peoplemeter ratings regionally.

In 2005, the contribution to revenue from non-EPL programming rose to over 20 per cent with the cricket-strong India market registering a similar increase as well as new advertisers on its F1, field hockey and international soccer properties, the release said.

According to ESS vice-president ad sales Charles Less, 'The strong advertising growth we're seeing speaks volumes of clients' confidence in our ability to deliver the ratings, the audience as well as effective and measurable integrated solutions."

On the distribution front, Star Sports grew by 14 per cent, while ESPN registered an increase of 7.6 per cent based on a year on year comparison throughout Asia. Individual ad sales and distribution figures for India was not provided in the official release.

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