ESPN proves there's hope for Soccer in India

Ask any Indian TV executive what 3 sports are meaningful in India, and they’ll say International cricket, National cricket and Local cricket! Everything else is unimportant. Until now. ESPN Star Sports has bought the rights for the Indian sub-continent for soccer, and is confident it will do well.

espn.jpgESPN-Star Sports, the j-v between Disney/ESPN and Rupert Murdoch’s Star TV operation, has bought a package of FIFA’s events, including the 2010 World Cup soccer-fest (to be held in South Africa). Terms were not revealed, but FIFA president Sepp Blatter says it is "a record deal in (the) Indian market." Recent years has seen value of soccer rights climb to new high levels throughout soccer-mad China and South East Asia generally.

ESPN-Star and FIFA’s confidence could be justified. Data from FIFA suggests that 50m people in India viewed the 2006 World Cup, up 44% on the 2002 event.

This deal allows 275 games to be shown (in India, as well as Pakistan and other near-by countries). All 64 World Cup 2010 games will be shown with English and Hindi commentaries.