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Channels cashing in on WC '06

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

New Delhi (UNI): As the 'soccer mania' grips the whole country, various television networks, in a bid to up their TRPs, line up programmes on the World Cup to attract viewership from the football crazy public in India. While the ESPN is already airing live the 2006 FIFA World Cup matches, others channels too have made plans to '' soak the viewers in the spirit of the World Cup''. In fact, in the run up to the World Cup, the channel has been showcasing more than 200 hours of the 2006 FIFA World Cup related programmes till the start of the event on June 9.

A unique feature of ESPN's world cup telecast is the Hindi telecast of the games. ''We are confident that our telecast of the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Hindi will entertain viewers and help us in penetrating new markets for soccer. We expect to transfer and retain viewers to our Hindi telecast of the English Premier League after the 2006 FIFA World Cup,'' Mr R C Venkateish, Managing Director of ESPN Software India Pvt Ltd, said. Talking about its plans for the World Cup he said: ''A phenomenal awareness has already been created around the FIFA World Cup in Germany. ESPN STAR Sports continues to make efforts to excite and involve consumers for the FIFA World Cup.

Not to be left behind, CNN International has secured footage rights for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, enabling the global broadcaster to show match highlights each day to ensure that its worldwide audience has a comprehensive roundup of the month-long tournament during the network's daily news and sports programming. In addition, CNN has created an exciting new initiative for the World Cup with a unique interactive forum at the CNN 'Fan Zone' on the network's website 'www.cnn.com' which enables football fans from around the world to be part of CNN's World Cup team. Fans at the tournament in Germany will be able to send in their own reports on the games, submit photographs and video clips and discuss their ultimate 'dream teams'. The service also offers breaking news on teams and players.

'Football is the world's most popular sport and as a global broadcaster CNN International has a duty to ensure that our audience has the most comprehensive coverage available,'' said Ms Rena Golden, senior vice president of CNN International. ''The combination of the best match highlights each day and the innovative CNN fan zone at CNN.com, means we have the most compelling coverage of any international broadcaster,''she said. CNN International will have a team of sports presenters and news correspondents reporting live from across Germany, each day, throughout the tournament, giving viewers around the world a unique insight into this prestigious tournament.

On the opening day of the tournament on June 9, the CNN presented a live programme by Becky Anderson from Munich as Germany kicked off against Costa Rica. For the rest of the tournament, CNN will be live at the Brandenburg Gate, with sports correspondents Mark McKay and Patrick Snell reporting on the matches while international correspondent Chris Burns will also be roving Germany in search of the news stories behind the world's biggest sporting event.

The National channel of Doordarshan has also made plans to telecast the semifinal and final matches of the World Cup. On other days, the channel will air a one hour capsule at 1600 hours each day consisting of highlights of the previous days matches. At the same time, other news channels like Zee news, Aaj Tak, Channel 7, CNN-IBN, NDTV and Sahara have planned regular news analysis programmes daily on the World Cup matches.

Media analysts say the spate of programmes being telecast on the World Cup by various TV channels is an indication of a huge craze for the event in India. ''I am very pleasantly surprised with the huge interest in soccer in a cricket crazy nation like India. It is the glory of the soccer world cup, which has transcended, like in other countries, over the language and sports barriers,'' FIFA president Sepp Blatter said. Terming India a key market with regard to soccer viewership and following, the FIFA President stated that the soccer's world governing body expected to overshoot the reach of 28.8 billion globally, witnessed during the last tournament in this edition of the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

Soccer viewership has been on the rise in India. The 2002 FIFA World Cup put soccer in a different league garnering ratings as high as 9.1 TVRs (among males, 15+, SEC A, B&C, C&S Households), which is comparable to top performing soaps and cricket ODIs. The Euro 2004 continued the growth and had a cumulative audience reach of 32.3 million viewers. This interest in soccer now touches even the English Premier league, which had a reach of 42.8 million for the season till date. This means that nearly 1 in 2 in Cable homes across India has sampled the EPL. The viewership for English Premier League and the Spanish Primera Liga has been growing steadily in India.

Keeping in mind the excitement of the season and The World Cup, Mobile2win, India's leading wireless VAS player, has acquired exclusive rights to distribute Cafu soccer content in India. This includes a multilevel game, wallpapers and animations. Featuring a fast, realistic, exciting game, with all the details of a football match, like injuries, substitutions, tactics, and formation changes, Cafu Football is the definitive game for living the emotions of the World Cup. The Cafu Football game can be downloaded via GPRS and logging onto the service providers home page - games section. Cafu Football is now available through major mobile operators like BPL, Hutch, IDEA and very soon on Airtel and Tata.

Mr Rajiv Hiranandani, Country Head - mobile2win India, says, '' We have rolled out the Cafu Football game keeping in mind the excitement of the season and The World Cup. Am sure All the soccer lovers in the country would enjoy downloading this soccer stars game. Also, part of our soccer Mobile line up is the Spanish League Game and wallpapers and a host of other generic soccer content we have developed for the tournament.'

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