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Sony Pictures To Buy Sports Channels From Zee For $385 Million

Sony, which holds broadcast rights for the cash-rich Indian Premier League Twenty20 cricket tournament, has won the rights for the FIFA World Cup to be held in Russia in 2018

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Media firm Sony Pictures Networks India (SPN) on Wednesday (31 August) said it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Ten Sports Network from Zee Entertainment Enterprises for $385 million.

"SPN and its affiliates have entered into definitive agreements to acquire TEN Sports Network from Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (ZEE) and its subsidiaries for $385 million," the company said in a statement.

The acquisition is subject to regulatory approval. The Ten Sports Network acquisition will add South Asia's leading sports network to SPN's existing portfolio of channels, it added.

"The acquisition of TEN Sports Network will strengthen SPN's offering for viewers of cricket, football and fight sports, complementing our existing portfolio of international and domestic sporting properties. It also aptly demonstrates SPN s commitment to providing a broad range of sporting entertainment to fans across India and the sub-continent," SPN Chief Executive Officer N P Singh said.

TEN Sports holds broadcast rights to major cricket boards in South Africa, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and West Indies. It also holds rights for football's UEFA Champions League, Europa League, French League and English Football Cup among other sports.

In addition, Ten Sports holds rights to wrestling (WWE), football (UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, French League, English Football League Cup), tennis (WTA Events, ATP events), golf (European Tour, Asian Tour, Ryder Cup, US PGA Championship, LPGA Tour, Professional Golf Tour of India and Golf Channel Block), athletics (Asian Games, Commonwealth Games), motor sports (Moto GP) and cycling (Tour de France) events.

TEN Sports channels being acquired include TEN 1, TEN 1 HD, TEN 2, TEN 3, TEN Golf HD, TEN Cricket, TEN Sports that operate in several countries including the Indian sub-continent, Maldives, Singapore, Hong Kong, Middle East, Caribbean.

"India has been a strong driver of Sony Pictures' growing networks business for two decades, and sports continue to play a significant role in that growth. The acquisition of Ten Sports, following the launch of Sony ESPN channels, will mean that our Indian networks would reach over 800 million viewers and broadcast many of the most popular and prestigious sporting events in the world," Sony Pictures Television President, Worldwide Networks Andy Kaplan said.

Sony, which holds broadcast rights for the cash-rich Indian Premier League Twenty20 cricket tournament, has also won the rights for the FIFA World Cup to be held in Russia in 2018.

Commenting on the deal, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Managing Director Punit Goenka said, "This is a landmark deal for ZEE and a step towards a strategic portfolio shuffle as we grow our general entertainment business both in the domestic and overseas markets.

"While we have grown our sports business over the last 10 years through acquisition of content at competitive prices,our focus now is on transforming ourselves into an all-round media and content company, comprising five verticals -broadcast, digital, films, live events, and international business;and we continue to move rapidly towards our set business goals. While I have always been proud of our sports business, I strongly believe that Sony will add more value to it by taking it to even greater heights."

Analysts have said that Zee Entertainment, which lacked a sizable presence in the sports category, will see a jump in earnings in the next two fiscal years as it sells off the money-losing venture.

Zee's sports broadcasting business had revenues of Rs 631 crore ($94.21 million) and a loss of Rs 372 million for fiscal year 2016, according to a company statement.


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