Mixed response to Newscorp’s total control of ESS

07 Jun,2012

By A Correspondent


The News Corporation and ESPN announcement that the latter would buy ESPN’s 50 per cent equity interest in ESPN STAR Sports (ESS) has been welcomed by the industry.  The transaction will allow News Corporation units to own and operate all of the ESS businesses while providing ESPN more independence and flexibility in future support of The Walt Disney Company’s overall efforts in Asia.


There has been a mixed response to the development. For one, they say it’s an internal matter between the two shareholders and will not impact the bidding or media selling process. ESPN and Star Sports (and the other channels) were being sold as one unit, said one observer. Yes, even though it was a 50:50 jv, the feeling was that it was a little more aligned to Disney than Star, remarked a senior official in a rival network.


Talking about the development, Hemant Kenkre, cricket analyst and a senior communications professional said: “I’m excited about the news as everyone knows that the News Corporation is an innovative organization. For instance, when they bought KBC to India, it changed the whole Indian GEC scenario. Even now they are one of the first organizations to launch fully HD channels. When one thinks of cable TV, News Corporation is the real king in India. Thus, one can say that they think differently so the sporting world too should get ready for a dhamaka. I’m sure even cricket fans will be happy with it because it will bring other sports on the forefront too.”


Commenting on the news, Mahesh Ranka, founder & CEO, Indus Sports and Sponsorship said: “This only means that the war between sports channels in India will intensify. ESPN will now be able to launch new channels and I’m sure they will as they are a major player globally. It will also mean that now a broadcaster might have to dig deeper into his pocket as it might push broadcasting rights in the near future. Having said that, it is good news because it signifies the growth of sport broadcast industry in the country.”


MxMIndia was unable to ascertain whether the terms of ESPN’s exit from ESPN Star Sports stipulates a cool-off period whereby ESPN will not be able to operate any similar channels in the region for a certain period. For instance, when Star pulled out its brand from the MCCS news channels, it was clear that it would not be able to launch Star News for the next 18 months after serving the notice (said to have been in January 2012).


With inputs by Meghna Sharma


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