News channels look at scoring goals

Soccer mania is in the air! With the Fifa World Cup scheduled to kick off 9 June in Germany, news channels in India, both domestic and international, have lined up extensive plans to capture the soccer fever.

At the moment, most news channels are running a countdown show and profiling the teams and players in various news segment of the day.

The scenario was quite different four years back. Then the news space was predominantly ruled by the bi-lingual Star News and the Hindi-language Zee News, besides the two international news channels, BBC World and CNN International.

But today, the same space has more players and is far more competitive. No surprise, therefore, that all the news channels are gung ho about the football fever.


Industry observers say that an event of such magnitude can cost a news channel between Rs 5 million to Rs 10 million. If the annual operating expenses of news channels are taken into account, then the expenditure on Fifa World Cup might not look big, though it’s an important part of a news channel’s life.

For example, NDTV Ltd’s operating expenses round up to approximately RS 1.78 billion annually, while TV18’s touches RS 700 million. TV Today with its three channels --- the fourth one started just a few days back --- incurred an annual operating cost of about RS 1.07 billion. The operating cost primarily includes expenditure on marketing, personnel, administration and uplinking.


Since all news channels have respective long term tie-ups with global wire agencies like Reuters and APTN, part coverage of events like the World Cup come at a slightly incremental cost.

“Generally, news channels have a long term agreement with a global news agency and for events like Fifa no extra fee is charged. News channels also inks deal with the sports channel that holds the telecast rights to access various other footage,” Zee News director Laxmi Goel says.

According to Goel, news channels are also likely to tie-up with ESPN Star Sports as it holds the rights to Fifa World Cup for this region. “At our end, the negotiations are on with ESS and we are also talking to other agencies for acquiring additional footage. Apart from that we will use extensively footage provided by Reuters and APTN,” he added.

With the soccer fever spreading in India though the country has never qualified for playing in the tournament, ESS is literally on a high. The sports channel is charging $100,000 for 60 seconds footage per match.

ESS’ euphoria is not shared by all the news channels though they want to provide extensive coverage of Fifa World Cup. The high cost of accessing footage from the rights holder is still an impediment in concluding deals.

Times Now channels’ parent Times Global Broadcasting vice-president and business head Partho Das Gupta points out that the company is in the process of “closing alliances” with ESS and others.

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