STAR Sports has appointed Navjot Singh Sidhu as the brand ambassador of the inaugural edition of Hero Hockey India League (HHIL) that kick started today. The inaugural edition of the league is being broadcast with Hindi commentary on STAR Sports, while STAR Cricket will broadcast select matches of the league in English. The matches will also be streamed live on youtube.
HHIL, a global league with players from 11 countries, will see participation from as many as 53 Olympians. The first edition will see participation from 5 teams—Uttar Pradesh Wizards, Jaypee Punjab Warriors, Delhi Waveriders, Mumbai Magicians and Ranchi Rhinos.
A total of 34 matches will be played across 24 match days on home and away basis across five franchisee cities namely Delhi, Mumbai, Lucknow, Jalandhar and Ranchi. The league will go on till February 10.
The broadcaster has also unveiled a panel of hockey experts and presenters who will do commentary on live telecast as well as pre-and-post match analysis through the league. The Hindi commentary panel includes former Indian Hockey players like Mir Ranjan Negi, Jugraj Singh, Deepak Thakur, Mohammed Shahid and Pargat Singh. The English commentary panel comprises of Viren Rasquinha, Cedric D’Souza, AB Subbaiah and Sandeep Somesh.
Aloke Malik, Managing Director, ESPN Software India, said, “We are very bullish about the future of hockey and the Hero Hockey India League. We believe that Hockey as a game has the pull as well as the potential to become a prominent No. 2 sport in the country after Cricket. The game has huge following across pockets in the country. This league has all the ingredients like franchisee led teams, home and away matches and the world’s very best players in action to make it a success. This kind of a league has never happened in the history of Hockey before.”
Malik said that they will showcase hockey in a completely new avatar. It will also have HD production supported by new camera angles for sharper imagery.
On the marketing, Malik said, “We have launched a high decibel 360 degree marketing campaign to promote HHIL across various communication platforms with the core theme as ‘Ladoh Toh Aise’ – Or “Fight Like this”. We have tried to capture the aggressive and positive attitude required to fight leveraging on speed and physicality of hockey in our campaign. To make it happen, we flew in celebrated ad-film director Nick Livesey from England who has shot hockey in an iconic new way. Advertising agency McCann Erickson India led by Prasoon Joshi and his team have been involved in conceptualizing this hi-decibel ad campaign.”
STAR Sports will broadcast 31 matches, 2 matches will be broadcast on ESPN while 1 match is scheduled on ESPN HD. A total of 22 matches will be broadcast in English commentary on STAR Cricket. There will also be a 30 minutes highlights capsule each match day after the airing of the last match.