ESS to push PHL through music; launches new on air campaign

MUMBAI: In a bid to give its local initiative Premier Hockey League (PHL) a further boost ESPN Star Sports (ESS) has launched the PHL Team's Music albums.

The albums are a collection of the favourite songs of the Five Tier I captains of PHL - Gagan Ajit Singh (Sher-e-Jallandhar), Viren Rasquinha (Maratha Warriors), Rajpal Singh (Chandigarh Dynamos), Dilip Tirkey (Hyderabad Sultans) and Arjun Halappa (Bangalore Lions). The second season of PHL kicks off in january.



ESPN India CFO Vijay Rajput said, "ESPN Star Sports is committed to build PHL as India's leading sports property. More than 19.8 million individuals sampled PHL in its inaugural year and we expect this base to grow further this year. We believe that PHL, in years to come, will become one of the most important events in India's sports calendar.

"The advertisement campaign brings the regional affiliations to the fore by making people take pride in their socio-cultural roots. The campaign reflects the core value of the respective community/region to make the league more involving for the audience. This will result in bigger audience size and more intense inter-team rivalries.

"We envisage that the popularity of PHL will grow as consumers' association with various teams grows. Through the on-air campaign, we will accelerate the process of consumers adapting teams as their favourites. The PHL Teams Music albums, which reflect the passion and enthusiasm of the Five Tier I captains, will provide an opportunity to millions of Indians to come closer to their favorite stars and teams."



Launching the PHL Music Albums, former cricket captain, Sunil Gavaskar said, "The entire concept, the way PHL has been executed is very impressive. This is one of the more successful innovations in the sporting arena in the country and PHL has caught the imagination of the sport loving people of India. I wish PHL every success and look forward to this year's competition keenly. I am a Maratha fan & I hope that our team will go and win the tournament this year".

ESS will be working closely with T-series to promote the PHL albums. The CDs and cassettes will be available at T-series retail outlets shortly. ESS will also launch an on-air campaign to promote the cassettes on leading electronic channels. The sports broadcaster will also use music as a hook at various road shows being planned at Jallandhar, Chandigarh and Bangalore. The cassettes will also provide a chance to the supporters to interact with their favorite teams.

Speaking on the occasion former Miss World and Bollywood Actress Diana Hayden said, "Hockey has a special place in the heart of every Indian. We all want the Indian team to do well and regain the supremacy India once had. PHL will play a very important part in promoting the game in India. Young Indian players will get a chance to hone their skills with the best in the world during their formative years. This can only do good to Indian hockey."



"This indeed is a novel initiative. I am going to keep a set of CD's with me. It sure is a collector's item."

Bollywood Actor and former captain of the Indian Rugby team, Rahul Bose, said, "Hockey is tough game like Rugby and requires a lot of application. I salute the spirit of these players and wish them all the best for the forthcoming tournament."

As had been earlier reported by the Inidna Hockey Federation (IHF) also already announced important changes in the format of PHL 2006. The changes have been made after a detailed analysis of the inaugural league. The most notable change is the introduction of the Third Umpire for the first time in the world of hockey. The on-field umpires will be equipped with mobile mikes to make the game more & more involving. In addition, Tier I in PHL 06 will have a 'Best of Three Finals', unlike last year where the winner was decided after a round robin league. The top two teams from Tier I, after the round robin league, will compete in the 'Best of Three' finals.

To ensure that more and more people are able to view the fixtures, Tier I matches will be played in the evening at 7 pm starting the Thursday of each week and running across on Friday, Saturday and Sunday till the end of the league. Evening viewing will lead to an increase in stadium attendance and will also make for convenient viewing for fans wanting to catch the games on television.

Like last year, each game will have four quarters of 17 minutes and 30 seconds each, instead of the two halves. The winner, within the stipulated time, will get three points for each victory, while the team winning in the extra time will share the points 2:1.

The league will have two tiers having five teams, as in the first year. Tier I will be called the 'Premier Division' and Tier II will be called the 'First Division'. The League will follow a round robin format with all teams playing each other twice. The winner for Tier I will be decided after the 'Best of Three' finals, while the Tier II winner will be decided on the points gained from the round robin league.

The top most team from Tier II will qualify to Tier I in the next year of PHL while the team finishing at the bottom in the Tier I will be relegated to Tier II. The winner of Tier I will take home Rs. 3 million, while the runners up will carry Rs 1 million. The winner of Tier II will get Rs 400,000 while the runner up will receive Rs 250,000. The manner of division of prize money between players and their respective associations shall be specified by IHF.

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