Rupert Murdoch-promoted News Corp, in the middle of restructuring its sports business in Asia, has decided to keep the sports broadcasting business in India under its subsidiary, STAR India.
The process started after News Corp bought out Walt Disney's 50 per cent stake in the Asian broadcasting joint venture, ESPN STAR Sports, for $335 million (Rs 1,800 crore) on Sunday. Interestingly, in other Asian countries, the ESS business will be under Fox International Channels (FIC).
STAR India Chief Operating Officer Sanjay Gupta told Business Standard the formal change in India would take some time and was expected before June this year. The Competition Commission of India cleared the acquisition in September last year.
Meanwhile, it is understood that even if it will be a part of STAR India, the sports business will continue to function as a separate entity.
The Indian subsidiary of ESS, ESPN Software India Pvt Ltd, has a separate team under Aloke Malik as its managing director. According to sources, the ad sales, marketing and distribution teams will work with STAR India.
Recently, Amit Chopra, former Hindustan Media Ventures Ltd chief executive officer, joined STAR India under Gupta to oversee the sports business.
STAR India last year acquired the media rights of the Board of Control For Cricket in India till 2018 for a whopping Rs 3,851 crore.
In the rest of Asia, ESS renamed ESPN as Fox Sports. In a statement, it said beginning January 28, the ESPN networks would be renamed as Fox Sports networks across various affiliate platforms in Asia. News Corp had named Peter Hutton, senior Vice President of FIC Sports, as managing director of ESS last year.
Interestingly, the name change will start with Southeast Asian countries like Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.
While ESPN will be renamed as Fox Sports, ESPN HD will be Fox Sports Plus (HD), sports news channel ESPNews will be Fox Sports News, broadband network ESPN Player will be Fox Sports Play and mobileESPN will be rechristened as Fox Sports Mobile.
“Sports has always been a driver genre in the TV business and with the addition of Fox Sports to FIC Asia’s portfolio, we are well poised to further our position as Asia’s leading network. We are looking to launch even more premium sports content in the near future and are committed to making Fox Sports the premiere destination for passionate sports fans,” Hutton said.