New Delhi: American broadcaster Discovery Communications on Monday launched a new sports channel in India called DSPORT, in a bid to widen its portfolio and expand its reach.
With a plan to offer 4,000 hours of live sporting content annually, Discovery will air international sports properties ranging from horse racing to football.
“The channel will be serving a mix of international sports which have large fan communities in India. We will offer 4,000 hours of live programming which is two-three times of any other channel," said Karan Bajaj, senior vice-president and general manager at non-fiction broadcaster Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific, a division of Discovery Communications.
The broadcaster operates 11 channels in India including Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Discovery HD World, Discovery Science, Discovery Turbo and Discovery Kids.
As of now, DSPORT has acquired rights to Brazilian, Chinese and Portuguese football leagues along with Major League Soccer (US) and will offer live racing from the UK and Irish tracks. In golf, the channel will air British Open (The Open Championship), US Open, PGA Championship and LPGA. Additionally, Discovery has also acquired rugby and cycling properties for the channel.
“There is a very strong, robust, passionate community of fans in India who are not being served the right quality of sports that they are interested in. There is an unmet need in the sector today and we are looking to go beyond cricket to address that with the new channel," Bajaj added.
Till now, India’s sports television market has been the duopoly of two big player—Star India and Sony Pictures Network. In September 2016, Sony Pictures Network had acquired sports network TEN Sports from Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd.
Discovery plans to introduce a wide range of local programming content on its channels and push new genres in factual entertainment space. In 2017, the non-fiction broadcaster is planning to offer 200 hours of local programming, up from five hours last year and will introduce genres like crime, military and inspiration. “We are implementing a very heavy localization strategy. That’s the priority right now. We are also changing the nature of story telling, from a documentary-led storytelling to character-driven narratives," said Bajaj.
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According to a report titled The Future: Now Streaming by KPMG and lobby group Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), the sports sector in India is moving beyond cricket to new sports leagues.
Between 2013 and 2015, the sports sector recorded a growth of 10% from Rs4372.5 crore to Rs4806.9 crore. “On the contrary, cricket saw a dip in on-the-ground sponsorship numbers, from Rs508.3 crore to Rs464.7 crore. The numbers clearly depict that though cricket continues to be a dominant sport, the rise of other new sports leagues is helping broaden the base of the country," the report said.