Television

Star to distribute Nimbus’ sports channels

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MUMBAI: Nimbus Sports Broadcast, the Nimbus Communications subsidiary operating its sports broadcasting business, has entered into a deal with Star India wherein the News Corp network will be distributing its soon to launch bouquet of Neo Sports channels.

The Star-Nimbus distribution deal is a five-year one that runs till 2010 and will apply to the two sports channels that will be launching by the end of the year as well as any future sports channels from the Neo Sports stable.

Both companies also issued categorical denials of a report that appeared in pink paper Economic Times today that News Corp. would be buying roughly a third of Nimbus for around Rs 4 billion ($86 million).

The release stated that Nimbus “is currently not engaged in any dialogue for inducting any new investors, whether financial or strategic.”

Speaking to Indiantelevision.com, Star Entertainment India CEO Sameer Nair was equally categorical that there were no discussions on issues of equity. “This is a specific to India distribution deal, underpinned by cable and of course looking to leverage the potential that DTH offers.” Nair said. The Neo Sports channels will be distributed on the Tata-Sky DTH network in which Star has a 20 per cent stake.

The first of the channels, the cricket centric Neo Sports, is set to be launched within the next three months. This will be followed by Neo Sports Plus, a sports entertainment channel, which is expected to be launched by the end of the year, states a joint statement issued by the two companies.

With nearly 200 days of cricket every year lined up on Neo Sports, of which over 100 days will be live India cricket including all BCCI events and between 3-4 international series every year; Neo Sports expects to reach a majority of the cable & satellite homes.

Nimbus paid $612 million for the telecast rights to the Indian cricket board's matches for 2006-10.

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