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ESPN To be Rebranded as FOX Sports From 28 Jan 2013
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ESPN To Renamed FOX Sports From 28 Jan 2013

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As News Corp completes the acquisition of Disney's 50% stake in the ESPN STAR Sports, the media group will stop using the ESPN brand in most Asia markets from next year.
News Corp was unable to comment the move, but it is widely understood that the Fox Sports brand will replace ESPN in most Asia markets.

But before that major move takes place, News Corp has kick started the task of integrating Disney's 50% share of ESPN STAR Sports into the Fox International Channels Asian business.

In the coming months, all ESS teams, excluding India, will be fully integrated into FIC Asia, effectively becoming the sports division of FIC Asia. ESPN STAR Sports India will be integrated into Star India.

The process of integration is likely to take six to 12 months.

After the dust settles, News is widely tipped to up the ante on its sports properties across the region with more channels, more HD, more non-linear and more local productions.

The moves in Asia also mirror similar moves around the world, particularly for Fox Sports US, Sky Sports in UK, Germany, Italy and Fox Sports Australia.

During 2012, News Corp has invested to buy out the minority shareholders of Fox Sports Latin America and fully integrate the operation into the FIC Latam business; launch Fox Sports in Brazil; buy 100% of ESS; form a JV with Softbank in Japan to launch Fox Sports Japan next February and buy the majority of the Dutch Football League channel business

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#2
STAR India Chief Operating Officer Sanjay Gupta told Business Standard the formal change in India would take some time and was expected before June this year. The Competition Commission of India cleared the acquisition in September last year.

Meanwhile, it is understood that even if it will be a part of STAR India, the sports business will continue to function as a separate entity.

The Indian subsidiary of ESS, ESPN Software India Pvt Ltd, has a separate team under Aloke Malik as its managing director. According to sources, the ad sales, marketing and distribution teams will work with STAR India.

Recently, Amit Chopra, former Hindustan Media Ventures Ltd chief executive officer, joined STAR India under Gupta to oversee the sports business.

STAR India last year acquired the media rights of the Board of Control For Cricket in India till 2018 for a whopping Rs 3,851 crore.

In the rest of Asia, ESS renamed ESPN as Fox Sports. In a statement, it said beginning January 28, the ESPN networks would be renamed as Fox Sports networks across various affiliate platforms in Asia. News Corp had named Peter Hutton, senior Vice President of FIC Sports, as managing director of ESS last year.

Interestingly, the name change will start with Southeast Asian countries like Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

While ESPN will be renamed as Fox Sports, ESPN HD will be Fox Sports Plus (HD), sports news channel ESPNews will be Fox Sports News, broadband network ESPN Player will be Fox Sports Play and mobileESPN will be rechristened as Fox Sports Mobile.

“Sports has always been a driver genre in the TV business and with the addition of Fox Sports to FIC Asia’s portfolio, we are well poised to further our position as Asia’s leading network. We are looking to launch even more premium sports content in the near future and are committed to making Fox Sports the premiere destination for passionate sports fans," Hutton said.

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