ESPN STAR Sports renews ties with FIFA

July 2nd, 2008 - 7:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, July 2 (IANS) ESPN STAR Sports (ESS) has inked a new contract with FIFA, the world’s governing body for football, gaining exclusive television rights to broadcast a line-up of international football tournaments, including the 2010 football World Cup, in the Indian sub-continent. A statement from the sports channel Wednesday said that under the terms of agreement, ESS will show over 275 international football games, including the 2010 FIFA World Cup and the FIFA Confederations Cup, scheduled to be held in South Africa.

In addition, ESS will broadcast other FIFA World Cup events of Futsal (indoor version of football) and Beach Soccer in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives, Bhutan and Nepal.

In 2006, FIFA World Cup was watched by over 50 million people in India alone, which according to ESS was an increase of 44 percent compared to the estimated viewership during the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

In the 2010 FIFA World Cup, 32 teams will be battling for the coveted trophy in South Africa in June-July 2010 and all the 64 matches will be accompanied by English and Hindi commentary. The matches will also have daily pre-shows and a daily review along with special lead-up programming.

In the statement, ESPN Software Pvt ltd managing director R.C. Venkateish said that soccer viewership has been showing a consistent increase.

ESPN STAR Sports managing director Manu Sawhney said that since 2005, the reach of Barclays Premier League has grown at 40 percent per annum. “The broadcast of international football games will certainly bring in more eyeballs,” he said.

FIFA president Joseph S. Blatter said in the statement that the rights package had also included the recently concluded UEFA Euro 2008, which witnessed a record audience, Barclays Premier League, FA Cup and Spanish Primera Liga.

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