Mumbai: Tennis fans lose in service provider, broadcaster fight

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Jun 04, 2015 23:32 IST

For tennis fans, life has not been jingalala. An unresolved dispute between broadcaster Neo Sports and DTH (direct-to-home) and cable operators has resulted in viewers missing out on the French Open championship.

As the marquee Grand Slam event progresses from the quarter-finals, it is likely that the fans will turn to digital platforms, which stream the matches directly on the mobile phones or desktop computers on a pay-per-view basis. The finals are on June 7.

In 2012, Neo Sports, part of Nimbus Communications, bagged the exclusive rights to telecast the French Open for five years.

While it has agreements with all DTH and cable operators to beam the games, it still has to reach a similar understanding with Tata Sky, one of India’s largest DTH companies.

“We have received reports about people in certain places in Mumbai not having access to the channel. But apart from Tata Sky, we have agreements with all other DTH players and cable firms to show the channel in their bouquet of shows,” said Rajan Bodh, national head, Neo Sports.

Typically, a broadcaster signs exclusive agreements with DTH and cable companies to show the channel in their basket of programmes. The broadcaster also signs up with digital platform companies or OTT (over-the-top) firms that stream television content via mobile applications.

When asked for a reason for the stalemate with Neo Sports, Paolo Agostinelli, Tata Sky chief content and business development officer, said, “More than 200 content providers have a successful relationship with us. Between a buyer and a seller, there must be an agreement on various variables for a transaction to materialise. We could not find a mutually satisfactory agreement [with New Sports] when it came up for renewal last year.”

Tata Sky has around 40.5 million subscribers across India. The company did not give a break-up of its subscriber base in Mumbai.

DishTV, another major DTH company, said Neo Sports channels are available on their platform, and subscribers with the ‘all sports pack’ can watch the French Open easily.

The Dhoot-owned Videocon d2h also said all the channels were being broadcast on their network. The company has a net subscriber base of 10.18 million users, of which a major portion opt for the sports channel.

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