The channel is planning to spend up to Rs 500 crore over 10 years to glamourise Indian football.

Ajita Shashidhar

Mumbai, Oct. 17

ZEE Sports is all set to give a facelift to Indian football (the channel recently acquired the 10-year telecast rights for the All-India Football Federation matches) with the promise of producing them as per international standards and organising a host of on-ground promotional activities to attract more eyeballs.

The channel, reportedly, is planning to spend in the region of Rs 400-500 crore over the next 10 years for various promotional activities to glamourise Indian football.

Mr Himanshu Mody, Executive Vice-President, Corporate Strategy and Finance, Zee Network, told Business Line that the channel has tied up with the best of international crew and the production quality would be at par with the English Premier League or the Spanish League. "We are doing a 10-camera coverage on the ground and all the matches would be played under floodlights. We are also going to have drummers to entertain the viewers on the sidelines of the matches and would have other attractions such as face painting competitions."

The channel is also going to launch two half-hour shows, titled Football Café, which according to Mr Mody, is meant to educate viewers about Indian football. "At the same time we will also try to build player profiles, talk about the various football clubs of India, their heritage and so on. These would be aired as promos across the network. As far as the Indian footballers are concerned, most of them are unknown. People probably relate only to Baichang Bhutia in Indian football."

"We will first try to create excitement around the sport, make heroes out of the players and generate excitement among the younger generation for Indian football," added Mr Mody.

The channel, said Mr Mody, would also look at going to schools and colleges and doing road shows with the Indian players at a later stage.

With regard to advertisers' willingness to associate themselves with football, Mr Mody said the response has been encouraging and that many leading companies have shown interest. "With the kind of politics that has crept into cricket, the ratings for the game has halved and advertisers also looking at alternative sports."

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated October 18, 2005)
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