ZEE Sports & Ten Sports could be merged

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With ZEE Telefilms currently in the process of restructing its entities in India, there is talk of ZEE Sports and Ten Sports merging.

ZEE Telefilms is getting ready to list three news demerged entities next year – ZEE News, Wire & Wireless India Ltd, and Dish TV – DNA Money learns that an additional demerger and listing may happen over the next three years.

Reason: between the time of the previous demerger proposal and the actual demerger, ZEE has bought a majority stake in Ten Sports. Under the deal with Ten Sports�۪ promoters, ZEE has the option to buy out the remainder stake in Ten Sports or merge it with ZEE Sports and list it some time by 2009.

According to Subhash Chandra, chairman of ZEE Telefilms, now rechristened ZEE Entertainment Enterprises Ltd, one of the options is to hive off ZEE Sports into a subsidiary and merge it with Ten Sports, in which ZEE has a 50% stake. Other options can also be considered. At some point, ZEE Sports could also be listed separately.

Explaining his sports channel vision, Chandra says that foreign channels like ESPN and STAR Sports have invested heavily only in Cricket. “We see an opportunity here”. His group will focus not only on cricket, but other sports such as football. “We are investing money in other sports played in the country”, he adds.

While STAR Sports and ESPN have won the rights for telecasting ICC matches, including the next World Cup, ZEE Sports has the telecast rights for national football for the next 10 years with an option to extend it for another 10.

Viewership in local football has gone up, he claims. However, he�۪s not betting his all on football. His interest in Ten Sports will give him a diversified bunch of revenues. “We lose in one, we�۪ll gain in another. The sports business will become viable,” he says about the Ten Sports acquisition.

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