MUMBAI: Star India, which runs India’s leading sports network Star Sports, has signed an eight year strategic partnership with the International Hockey Federation (FIH) to improve the production of international hockey broadcast and extend hockey’s reach worldwide. Star Sports will be the host broadcaster for key FIH events both in India and throughout the world and will be responsible for ensuring consistent and high level production. The global media rights deal, which runs from January 2015 to December 2022, though excludes Argentina. The bedrock of this partnership will be the FIH’s decision to host a major event in India each year furing the period of the deal. The deal also means that Star will broadcast the 2018 Men’s Hockey World Cup slated to take place in India. Through its network of international affiliates and other national broadcasters, Star Sports will ensure that FIH events are widely distributed in over 200 countries. The sportscaster will also aim to enhance the production values to attract more viewers towards the game particularly the youth. For Star Sports, it is also about deepening its association with India’s national sport. Last year, it had partnered Hockey India to launch the pioneering Hockey India League (HIL). Star Sports showcased hockey in a completely new way, offering a TV experience relevant to the youth market. In its first season, HIL was broadcast in more than 80 territories across the globe. Star India president Sports Nitin Kukreja said, “We are delighted to be FIH’s global production, host broadcast and distribution partner. The partnership ties-in well with our overall vision of promoting sports culture in India. Hockey is a priority sport for us and we are thrilled that India will host one key event every year during the eight year term. Kukreja believes that the FIH’s decision to host an event every year will boost the popularity of Hockey if produced and marketed well. “We believe that hosting an international event each year, which is produced innovatively, will significantly boost the popularity of hockey in India. The sport has a glorious heritage in India and we believe that it has a tremendous future. We will work closely with FIH and invest in production to ensure that hockey reaches its full potential. As we have done with HIL, we will aim to innovate and create an exciting visual spectacle for international viewers,” Kukreja averred. The partnership with Star Sports is in line with FIH’s strategy to put events at the forefront and also its determination to inspire and entertain a global movement of hockey fans and players. FIH recently introduced a strong focus on digital engagement, branding and promotion of events to improve the spectator experience. Making the television coverage more entertaining and compelling is fundamental to achieving this goal, the FIH said. FIH president Leandro Negre said, “Not only will Star Sports promote hockey worldwide between Olympic Games’ cycles, which is incredibly important to sustaining interest in hockey, but it will make our sport much more interactive and entertaining. Star’s ability to deliver immersive, engaging and captivating coverage will draw new young audiences towards hockey.” FIH CEO Kelly Fairweather said, “Star Sports share our determination to raise the bar in terms of the production values and the viewer experience in a rapidly changing multi-screen environment. Their know-how will be hugely beneficial, and we look forward to working with them to ensure that our incredible sport is presented to the world in the best possible way.”

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