ESPN, Sony Unveil India Sports Networks Launch, Programming Details

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The sports powerhouse returns to India two years after ending a partnership with 21st Century Fox's Star network, with the NFL, NASCAR and the Australian Open tennis tournament among the programming highlights.

Walt Disney's ESPN and Sony Corp.'s Sony Pictures Networks India on Tuesday unveiled details about two co-branded sports channels and said they would launch on Jan. 17.

The launch of Sony ESPN and Sony ESPN HD will mark ESPN's return to India after it ended its 18-year-old joint venture with the 21st Century Fox-owned Star network in 2013. As reported earlier, the sports network powerhouse has partnered with Sony Pictures Television's India unit, which operates a range of entertainment and three sports channels, Sony Six, Sony Six HD and Sony Kix. The new co-branded channels expand the company's sports offering to four channels.

The Sony ESPN channels will kick off their live sports coverage with the Australian Open tennis grand slam tournament. The programming lineup also includes U.S. favorites, such as the NFL live games and other programming and NASCAR coverage, and international soccer fixtures, such as Spain's Liga BBVA, the U.K.'s FA Cup, the UEFA Euro 2016 Cup and the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

“The launch of these channels, and the complementary digital properties in the months ahead, creates a world-class multi-media stage on which the combined expertise and resources of our two companies can deliver amazing content and products to Indian fans,” said ESPN Asia Pacific vp and general manager Mike Morrison.

Later this year, Sony and ESPN will launch a new multi-sport website and mobile app to boost the partnership's digital presence, which includes the long-running ESPNcricinfo platform for cricket.