Will Sony ESPN make a dent?

12 Jan,2016


By A Correspondent


UEFA Euro 2016, 2018 FIFA World Cup La Liga BBVA, Serie A TIM, Emirates FA Cup, UEFA European Qualifiers for 2018 WC, FIFA Futsal World Cup 2016, Australian Open, Hopman Cup, Mubadala World Tennis Championship, Champions Tennis League, UFC, NFL, ATP 1000, ATP 500, ATP 250 and ATP World Tour Finals… what do all these sports events mean to you? Exciting? Or unappetising?


Well, that’s the programming line-up on Sony ESPN channels that was unveiled to the media yesterday when Sony Pictures Networks India (SPN), in collaboration with ESPN, announced the launch of its two new channels, SONY ESPN and SONY ESPN HD, set to go live next week – January 17, to be precise. With this, SPN has expanded its sports cluster to four channels – Sony ESPN, Sony ESPN HD, Sony SIX and Sony Six HD, thereby widening its footprint in sports entertainment in India and the sub-continent. Meanwhile, Sony Kix has been dispensed with.


So will the entry of ESPN make a dent in the market? Well, for Sony Pictures Network which is experiencing some rough weather in entertainment, it surely increases bragging rights. But, remember, sports is all about another kind of rights. While ESPN is a huge brand, just being a well-known name doesn’t mean much. And even a Baba Ramdev can start a channel if he has the monies and can manage to comply with all the eligibility requirements, and by ideally buying an old sports channel.


The various tournaments Sony ESPN has are good, but are they the kind which will NOT kill competition. The Australian Open timings aren’t really India-friendly, nowhere like Wimbledon and the French Open. The FIFA World Cup is two years away.


There’s only the IPL that Sony has and none of the other key ICC tournaments are with the group. Even EPL and the Formula 1 encounters aren’t in the kitty.


There is no Golf to talk about and UEFA Euro 2016 is the only one with a huge draw this year. Other than the IPL of course, but that’s already being aired on Sony Max and Sony Six and their respective HD versions. It’s possible though that some IPL encounters may well air on Sony ESPN.


Meanwhile, the launch of these new channels represents the first steps in the collaboration between SPN and ESPN to power content, across both, the television and digital platforms.


The benefit will be from SPN’s powerful existing portfolio of sports and content, plus ESPN’s leadership position in sports and more than 1000 hours of programming per year from its portfolio of sports rights, original programming, award-winning sports documentaries and studio programmes.


Later this year, the collaboration between SPN and ESPN will also see the launch of a new multisport digital website and app that will complement the SONY ESPN channels, as well as the existing leadership of ESPNcricinfo and Sony LIV’s digital offerings.


Said NP Singh, Chief Executive Officer, Sony Pictures Networks India: “As a network, SPN is focused on becoming the first choice in television and digital entertainment. Our collaboration with ESPN is a targeted step in that direction as it helps us ink another milestone in our growth trajectory. Not only that, the launch of the SONY  ESPN cluster of channels validates our intent to provide stylized, high-quality and insightful international sporting content to viewers in India and across the Indian sub-continent.”


Added Prasana Krishnan, EVP & Business Head, Sports Cluster, Sony Pictures Networks: “ESPN has always had a strong connect with Indian audiences. Our partnership with ESPN will further strengthen our Sports bouquet with four channels SONY ESPN, SONY ESPN HD, Sony SIX and Sony SIX HD. Our programming line-up starts with the Australian Open followed by marquee football properties like Liga BBVA, Serie A TIM and FA CUP leading to UEFA EURO 2016 will give every sports fan a reason to celebrate our extensive offering clubbed with analysis presented by expert panelists.”


Said Mike Morrison, Vice President & General Manager, ESPN Asia Pacific: “For more than 35 years, ESPN has been known for its quality, personality and authority. The launch of these channels, and the complimentary digital properties in the months ahead, creates a world-class multi-media stage on which the combined expertise and resources of our two companies can deliver amazing content and products to Indian fans.”


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