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Taj Television, Zee plan Ten Sports brand expansion

Taj Television, Zee plan Ten Sports brand expansion

Mumbai: Dubai-based Taj Television Ltd, which runs the Ten Sports channel, is firming plans to expand its brand in India, along with part-owner Zee Telefilms Ltd.

Taj Television and Zee are working on launching a 24-hour golf channel, likely to be named Ten Golf, two media buyers familiar with the development said.

The firms will also rebrand Zee Sports as Ten Action, with a focus on adventure sports and non-cricket content such as football and tennis.

The media buyers, who didn’t want to be identified, added that Taj and Zee may either rebrand Ten Sports as Ten Cricket or launch a separate channel to track India’s most popular game.

These plans would be finalized in a month, they said.

Taj Television, established in 2001, is owned by United Arab Emirates-based Bukhatir Investments Ltd and Zee Telefilms, part of the Mumbai-based Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL).

Peter Hutton, chief operating officer of Ten Sports, said the company was not in a position to confirm any development. A Zee Entertainment spokesperson did not revert to Mint’s emails and phone calls for the story.

There are many reasons for why Zee would be looking to leverage the Ten Sports brand.

TAM Media Research Pvt. Ltd’s data show that while Zee Sports has been losing its already dismal channel share, Ten Sports has been on the rise. Zee Sports’ channel share fell from 3% in 2007 to 1% in 2009. Ten Sports, on the other hand, had a channel share of 28% in 2007 and 30% in 2009.

L.S. Krishnan, president of media specialist Radar, Mudra Group, says ad revenues for sports channels have always been sporadic. “When the cricket season is on, sports channels account for as much as 8% of the overall advertising pie while in other seasons, they account for barely 1% of the overall pie."

On the potential for a channel dedicated to golf, Krishnan said it is a “high profile sport and a lot of premium luxury brands may want to partner with the channel for sponsorships... It will bring in big international golfing tournaments to India and spark off interest for the game".

Other experts don’t believe India is ready yet for such focus on sports that is not cricket.

“India’s mainly a cricket country and the television rights to most of the big cricketing events (even the Ranji Trophy) are aligned with certain television networks," said R. Gowthaman, leader, Mindshare, the media agency of GroupM India Pvt. Ltd. “The market’s open for other television-based niche verticals such as travel and health and wellness but not sports."

Advertisers with a clear slant to sports, such as Hero Honda Motors Ltd, have already committed their budgets to key cricketing events, he added.

Cricket-related advertising budgets exceeded Rs1,200 crore in 2009, said Shashi Sinha, chief executive of media agency Lodestar Universal Pvt. Ltd.

According to Sinha, the success of new sports channels would depend on how well they popularize international sports such as football.


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