New Delhi, July 30 (IBNS) Hockey India (HI) on Monday announced it has entered into a multi-year broadcast agreement with leading sports broadcaster ESPN STAR Sports to exclusively broadcast the soon to be launched Hockey India League (HIL).
ESPN STAR Sports will also cover all international hockey test matches under Hockey India to be played in India for the next 5 years.
In a multi-year deal, ESPN STAR Sports has been granted global telecast rights for the professional hockey league.
The International Hockey Federation (FIH) approved league will see the best of national as well as international hockey stars showcase their prowess. The first edition of the league is expected to be played in the month of January 2013.
The league will comprise of at least six franchise hockey teams and will feature 33 hockey matches to be played in prime time in state-of-the-art stadia across the country.
All teams will play each other on a home and away basis (30 league matches) followed by 2 semifinals and the final.
Hockey India further announced that ESPN STAR Sports has the global broadcast rights to telecast at least 5 international hockey test matches every year under Hockey India to be played in India for the next 5 years.
The number of matches that India will play against top quality international opposition could go up depending on the finalization of the series schedule.
Hockey India Secretary General and Chairman, Hockey India League, Dr. Narinder Batra, said, "Hockey India has a clear vision - we want to revive the glory days of hockey in India and drive popularity of the game across the country. This partnership with ESPN STAR Sports will play a key role in our overall plans."
Speaking on the professional hockey league, Batra said, "The proposed league (HIL) will be the biggest initiative that hockey has ever seen in India. We have been working out the details for months now and I am glad to announce that things are quickly falling into place. I am confident that our partners ESPN STAR Sports will help us deliver a flawless world class product."
Peter Hutton, Managing Director, ESPN STAR Sports, said, "Hockey is close to our heart and we will drive all our efforts to make this league a success."
"We are also delighted to have all international hockey test matches under Hockey India to be played in India on our networks for a 5 year period. I look forward to some memorable occasions and a new era for Indian hockey," added Peter.
Image: Peter Hutton, Managing Director, ESPN STAR Sports (second from right) and Elena Norman CEO, Hockey India (third from right) formalising the broadcast contract of Hockey India League and international matches to be played in India under the aegis of Hockey India. On the extreme right is Aloke Malik, Managing Director, ESPN Software India Pvt Ltd. Lokesh Sharma, Chairman, 21st Century Media is on the extreme left.