ESPN Star Sports promises cricket in HD

ESPN Star Sports will broadcast the Champions League Twenty20 cricket event in high definition in India, the first broadcaster to unveil HDTV coverage of an event.

The tournament starts on December 3 and ESPN Star Sports, a joint venture between ESPN and News Corp’s Star TV, has 10-year global rights for the event, as well as now being the preferred bidder to be the long-term global producer for the event.

A high definition feed of the tournament will make it the first HD telecast for any sporting event in the Indian subcontinent. Quite how viewers will access the feed is unclear as there are as yet no HD subscriptions being sold by pay-TV platforms. But the HD coverage may hurry plans operators have to offer HD services to their subscribers.

ESPN Star is also promising as many as 34 cameras at each venue to cover all the matches, including Super Slo Motion cameras, aerial cameras, a boundary-side field camera and a new mid-wicket camera to highlight running between the wickets.

Manu Sawhney, Managing Director, ESPN STAR Sports, said: “With the phenomenal success that we have had with inaugural ICC Twenty20 World Cup last year, we are confident that we will be able to take this exciting Champions League Twenty20 to new heights as well. This world-class event will further reinforce ESS' position as the number one choice for cricket fans for years to come."

Broadcasting the event further cements ESPN Star Sports’ growing importance in cricket coverage in Asia, a key sport in the region. The broadcaster already holds exclusive telecast rights to International Cricket Council events until 2015 and has deals with Cricket Australia and the England and Wales Cricket Board. However, it missed out on rights to the hugely-popular Indian Premier League (IPL), which the Champions’ League Twenty20 event is competing against.

And the news came just a day after ESPN Star Sports celebrated another rights win, renewing soccer’s UEFA Champions’ League rights in Malaysia and Brunei and agreeing a new deal for Chinese overage of the league.

The Chinese deal covers English-language pay-TV rights for three years from next season and includes rights to the UEFA Europa League, a total of over 350 matches should ESPN Star Sports broadcast them all.

In Malaysia and Brunei, ESPN Star Sports maintains exclusive pay-TV, broadband and mobile rights for all matches in the Champions’League, a total of 146 games and including UEFA-produced magazine shows.