Sports fans in the Indian subcontinent will be spoilt for choice after Indian Premier League (IPL) rights holder Multi Screen Media (MSM) and sports broadcaster ESPN announced plans on Wednesday to launch new channels and foray into digital market.
ESPN, a Walt Disney unit, exited India in 2012 after a split with Rupert Murdoch-owned Star TV, which owns the rights to cricket-crazy India's home international matches and domestic tournaments, excluding the annual IPL Twenty20 competition.
As part of the "long-term" deal, Sony Corp-owned MSM will rebrand its sports channel KIX as SONY ESPN and the two broadcasters will also launch new channels in the coming months.
In collaboration with MSM, ESPN will start a multisport website and app, which will provide coverage of cricket, football, tennis, the NBA and several other sports.
"It brings together two of the most respected brands in the media world," Prasana Krishnan, vice president and business head of sports for MSM, told Reuters.
"It will be a combined portfolio of their expertise in sports coverage and our reach and penetration and market position we bring in this particular territory.
"I see it as a win-win combination from a sports fan's perspective."
Besides broadcasting the popular IPL and the NBA, MSM also holds rights for the Rugby World Cup, Euro 2016, the Under-17 World Cup to be held in India, soccer leagues such as Spanish La Liga, the Serie A and the FA Cup and the Australian Open tennis.
"Currently we are starting off with rebranding SONY KIX as the first SONY ESPN channel. We will follow it up with hi-deck versions and more channels," Krishnan said.
"It will be rolled out over a period of time."