Subcontinent feeds of sports channels ESPN Star Sports which are now managed by Star TV in India, are to undergo major changes from 6th Nov 2013. ESPN exited the joint venture last year resulting in the subsequent rebranding of ESPN as "Fox Sports" in Asia. After months of deliberations it has been decided that ESPN will be rebranded under the Star Sports brand in the subcontinent instead of Fox Sports as the rest of Asia.
As per the rebranding exercise, India is rumored to get a dedicated Hindi Sports channel which will also concentrate mainly on Indian domestic sports.
Given below is a quick round of how the channel rebranding exercise will take place
- Star Sports will become "Star Sports 1" - will showcase mainly premier cricket events.
- Star Sports 2 will remain as "Star Sports 2" - will showcase mainly premier football events, dual language feed.
- Star Cricket will become "Star Sports 3" - will showcase largely Hindi content & Indian domestic properties and will also be home to cricket involving India.
- ESPN will become "Star Sports 4" - will showcase international sports content such as F1, Baseball, etc.
- Star Cricket HD will become "Star Sports HD 1" - will mainly showcase HD cricket & football.
- ESPN HD will become "Star Sports HD 2" - will showcase HD football, F1 & Indian domestic content.
The above is just a summary of what is expected, however it's quite clear that there will be changes to the above from time-to-time since this largely depends on the "live" properties that will be carried simultaneously. The exclusive "live" rights for the 2016 Summer Olympic games are with Star Sports and its clear that all 6 channels will the carry games depending on the number of events taking place simultaneously. At the moment Star Sports, ESPN, ESPN HD & Star Cricket are on local pay television platforms meaning that after the rebranding exercise it will be "Star Sports 1", "Star Sports 4", "Star Sports HD 2" & "Star Sports 3" that will be the channels available on local platforms.
Star Sports 3 is rumored to be mainly Hindi, so the most obvious choice for local operators will be to swap "Star Sports 3" with "Star Sports 2", however in the long run it would mean that content on Star Sports 3 will be missed by locals since it will be mainly Hindi but not 24 hours Hindi and depending on how many "live" properties are simultaneously being carried "live", it highly likely that English content will be available on Star Sports 3 too.
So the best option would be for local operators to carry all 4 SD Star Channels & HD enabled operators to carry all 6 ensuring that locals enjoy the best of sports from Star Sports.