Singapore – New channels dedicated to individual sports, and digital media are just two of ESPN STAR Sport’s (ESS) goals for the coming year. Managing Director Manu Sawhney declines to say which other sports-specific channels are on the horizon but points to the success of STAR Cricket, which launched June 2007 in India. STAR Cricket and sibling channel ESPN garnered a combined channel share of 47.2% during the India versus Pakistan Twenty20 match on Sept. 14. ESPN aired the ICC World Twenty20 Live with English commentary, while STAR Cricket did so in Hindi. A feed in Tamil Nadu was also introduced on STAR Cricket. ESPN contributed 26.7% while Star Cricket contributed 20.5%; the two channels were followed by Zee TV (9%) & Star Plus (5.8%). ESPN Star Sports is looking to recoup the US$1.1 billion spent on acquiring the rights for the International Cricket Council (ICC), including the next two World Cups. ESS’s new channels come as the likes of Comcast International Media Group’s The Golf Channel; Goal TV, Neo Sports and Eurosport aim to make further in-roads in the Asia Pacific region. Sawhney says a mobile service from STAR Sports is also expected soon. Mobile ESPN was launched in Asia in May 2006 in the run-up to that year’s FIFA World Cup soccer finals. The service is now available to 78.3 million subscribers via 11 mobile operators in the region.
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