ESPN STAR Sports is on an aggressive growth path riding on the array of properties that are lined up for telecast on the network this fiscal. Makarand Palekar, associate vice president, Affiliate Sales, ESPN Software India Pvt. Ltd, said, "Our golden era is about to take off and we are looking at a minimum of 60 per cent growth in affiliate revenue in the coming fiscal nationally."
Makarand has reasons to be bullish after signing a spate of renewals with DEN India on a national basis, InCable in South India, SitiCable in Kolkata and Mumbai, ICC in Pune, Manthan, Calcom, KCBP and Cablecom in Kolkata , Seven Star in Mumbai, UCN in Nagpur and a host of other affiliates across the country.
"We have emerged as the highest investor in the game of cricket globally. We have the broadcast rights of all marquee properties including England & Wales Cricket Board, Australia Cricket Board, ICC and now Airtel Champions League T20 in our fold. Riding on this, we are looking at a sizeable growth in our paid subscriber base across India. I am happy to share that all our partners in the affiliate business are appreciative of this and we expect to close out most of the remaining deals within a few days' time," he said.
ESPN has recently repositioned itself on air and looks determined to do so on the ground as well. Speaking on the new on-air rebranding initiatives, Makarand said, "The new branding for STAR Sports and the refreshed on-air presentations for each channel brand aim to enthuse and exhilarate sports fans across India and continue our strong and enduring association with them."
The coming year will see a slew of blockbusters on ESPN, STAR Sports and STAR Cricket.
Overall, the sports bouquet of ESPN, STAR Sports and STAR Cricket will showcase non-stop cricket throughout the year. The bouquet has the rights to showcase as many as 13 Test matches, 38 ODIs and 53 T20 matches from July 2009 to June 2010. In soccer, the sports broadcaster will continue to show coverage from Barclays Premier League and one of the biggest sporting extravaganzas - FIFA World Cup 2010. In Tennis, the coverage will include Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon. In Golf, the coverage will include the British Open, US Open Golf package and The Augusta Masters. In Motor Sports, ESPN STAR Sports have telecast rights for Formula One & Moto GP.