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Sony acquires rights for telecast of Cue Slam for three years
MUMBAI: After an extended period of gestation, Cue Slam, the league featuring pool and snooker organised by Sportzlive and BSFI, will kick off on 19 August. It will run until 25 August.
Sony Pictures Sports Network has done a three-year deal for the telecast of the event, which will air on Sony ESPN and Sony ESPN HD.
“The league will be held from 19 to 25 August. As the name suggests, Cue Slam is a cue sports league packaging the traditional snooker and pool into a fast and dynamic sport, engaging the audiences. The format includes a combination of six-red snooker (instead of the traditional 15-red snooker) and nine-ball pool played in sets. The teams include top men and women players from India and abroad, which also makes this league the only league wherein men and women players compete in the same match,” said Sportzlive chairman Atul Pande.
The initial plan was to launch it two years back. Asked about the reason for the delay, Pande explained that the company took the licence about 18 and a half months ago. “It has taken us that much time to plan a structure and find like-minded partners to execute the league.”
Talking about how the idea came about, he noted that Cue Sports is widely played in India, mostly in recreational clubs, bars and condominiums. About 2.5 million people play pool/snooker at least once a week, and about 10 million people play once a year. Snooker also has a connect with the country as it was invented in India and players like Geet Sethi, Yasin Merchant, Pankaj Advani and many more have won laurels at the world stage. Cue sports is also one of the most downloaded games on smart phones. “The sport is hugely popular in North America, West Europe and East Asia. The idea is to tap this popularity and potential television and digital scalability of the sport by packaging the sport in a more dynamic and trendy way than the traditional snooker played in a formal room,” he explained.
Business model: The business model is a mix of team, sponsor and broadcast revenues to support the league. “In the first year, we expect the league to generate about Rs 6–8 crore. The business model envisages a breakeven for league owners by the third year and team owners by the second year. Five teams are there in the following cities—Delhi, Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai.
“The teams own the franchises for an initial eight years’ licence fee, and then in perpetuity. We envisage a total investment of under Rs 3 crore for the team owners before they break even,” he stated.
The TG: Saying that it is essentially an NCCS-A elite product with scope for a strong digital play, he added, “About 10 million viewers tuned in to watch the World Snooker tournament, Indian Open held last year in Hyderabad, which was on Sony Six and Sony HD.”
The focus is on creating a high-end TV product appealing to the niche audience. Digital intervention will be of essential importance in the coming years. The organisers also have plans to host the league in malls, bars and similar places as the league grows.
Domestic players: Pande noted that the Indian players have always done well at the international stage. “Players like Pankaj Advani, Aditya Mehta and Sourav Kothari are certainly making a mark on the world stage. In the international women’s domain, players like Amee Kamani and Vidya Pillai are also excelling.”