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Ten Sports readies to dribble with Junior Hockey World Cup

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MUMBAI: Right now, the nation is moaning about the retirement of Indian cricket great Sachin Tendulkar. Clearly, the focus is on cricket and punters are betting that his farewell test is going to notch up never before heard of ratings.

But wait, here's a channel which is hoping to take the viewership of hockey - another national passion  (until cricket took over) -  up a few notches as it readies for a blast which is going to hit the air waves in the next 10 days. Ten Sports, which is the official broadcaster of the Hero Junior Men's Hockey World Cup 2013 says it is going to unleash a promotional blitzkrieg for it. To be held in Delhi from 6-15 December, it features 16 national teams and will be played out at the Major Dhyanchand National Stadium, New Delhi.

“We are building up a strategy to make hockey really big. We know that the sport has huge potential to catch up with cricket as it has the same energy and vigour,” says Ten Sports CEO Rajesh Sethi, adding that the promotional strategy includes going big on social media to build the buzz for the tournament.

Commentary is going to primarily be in English unlike rival Star Sports which normally telecasts hockey with Hindi commentary.

In fact it’s not just Junior Hockey World Cup, the channel, which also has a right to broadcast the Hockey World Cup that will be played in Netherlands in May-June 2014, the Commonwealth Games, Glasgow (23 July- 3 August, 2014), and 2014 Asian Games (September-October 2014) scheduled to be held in South Korea, is planning a huge build up for all these spectacles from now onwards.

“Hockey forms a big chunk of all these games. With the telecast of the Junior World Cup, we will start building up an environment for the sport,” says Sethi, who is closing on some “big advertising deals” for the tournament very soon.

According to sources, the channel is also planning to rope in a well-known person as the brand ambassador to promote the tournament.

Rival channels are not too disturbed by Ten Sports push.

Says one of them: “Ten Sports has a long term agreement with International Hockey Federation (FIH) and the way we try to make all our events big, even they will do that. There’s really no need for us to be troubled because of that. The sport has its loyal audience; hopefully Ten Sports' push will expand the viewership. The entire sports industry in India wants other sports to develop viewership so that our dependency on cricket can reduce.”

All league matches featuring India will be played in prime time slot at 8:00 pm, beginning 6 December. Should the GECs be worried?

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