After securing media rights for international and domestic matches from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for a cumulative figure of Rs 5,963 crore for the next five years between September 2023-March 2028, the Sports 18 network is gearing up for secondary sports channels named Sports18 2 & Sports18 3 respectively. Both channels are launching on 1st November 2023. Here is “What to expect from Sports18 Network”.
Sports18 Network owned by Viacom18, a joint venture between Network18 and Paramount Global was launched on 15th April 2022. Intially it involved only 2 channels, Sports18 1 SD & Sports18 1 HD. Later, on 25th April 2022, another channel Sports18 Khel was launched albeit it’s available exclusively on DD Free Dish. Apart from BCCI cricket rights (which consist of international and domestic matches & Women’s Premier League) the network also holds the rights to flagship tournaments like the FIFA World Cup, ATP Tour Masters 1000, BWF World Championships, MotoGP, Indian Super League, Spanish La Liga, Italian Serie A, etc.
There was a need for launching secondary sports channels as Viacom18 music channels- MTV & VH1 were burdened with telecasting live sports. Viewers in India prefer to listen to commentary in regional languages and the lack of secondary channels was putting pressure on the movie channels of Viacom18. The recently concluded ODI series between India & Australia was telecasted on ‘Colors Cineplex Superhits’ for Hindi commentary.
Apart from these, the network needs more channels to effectively compete with rival sports networks i.e. Star Sports Network and Sony Sports Network. Star Sports Network first initiated the trend of launching regional sports language channels and was later followed by Sony Sports Network. Both of these broadcasters have separate channels for English, Hindi, Tamil/Telugu broadcasting.
With the additions of Sports18 2 & Sports18 3, Viacom18 has received a boost to telecast multiple sports events simultaneously and in the preferred languages of viewers. Also, it will completely eliminate the burden on their music and movie channels so that they can concentrate on their respective genre.
Sports18 2 will be telecasting live sports events in Hindi, however, nothing has been confirmed yet for Sports18 3 but it is expected to telecast sports events in the dual language of Tamil/ Telugu. Surprisingly, both of these channels are launching in SD only, and there has been no announcement as of now regarding their HD versions. Nowadays, viewers prefer HD channels for all their entertainment needs and it will be no surprise if the HD versions of both of these channels get launched before the 5-match T20I series between India & Australia which is set to commence on 23rd November 2023, right after the ongoing world cup.
The success of both of these channels will also depend on, how Viacom18 distributes them. There was a delay in the addition of Sports18 1 SD & Sports18 1 HD. Most of the DTH operators launched both channels on the occasion of the first-ever WPL (Women’s Premier League). But, recently achieved rights from BCCI have surely added much-needed confidence to the network. In the future, we may expect the addition of more cricket action and other exciting sports from the network. The coming days will be of steep competition between Sports18, Star Sports and Sony Sports Networks and viewers will be blessed with exciting sports content from each network.
This article has been edited by Abhinav Kumar.