Eleven plans to beef up variety

Niche sports such as drone racing, freestyle football and e-sports may be finding their way into your homes soon.

Eleven Sports Network is exploring the idea of adding such fringe sports to its offerings, as it aims to reach a subscriber base of 100,000 by next June.

The over-the-top sports content provider, which delivers content over the Internet, currently has about 30,000 customers.

While the network will continue to pursue broadcast rights for popular sports such as football and basketball, Eleven managing director Shalu Wasu told The New Paper in an interview that niche sports are very much in their sights as well.

Unlike traditional pay TV providers, it is commercially viable for Eleven to offer niche sports like drone racing, even if there are just 500 fans here.

"The overhead costs are low... it doesn't cost us extra to build a system to beam additional content, or create an additional channel," Wasu said.

Eleven will continue to "aggressively" pursue broadcast rights for popular sports, too, he added, such as next year's Fina World Championships - where Singapore's Olympic swim champion Joseph Schooling is expected to make a splash.


Yesterday, Eleven launched a new low-cost content package at 99 cents a week.

It unbundles the popular EPL broadcasts from the rest of its offerings (see story below).

Wasu said some of his customers have told him they did not watch the English Premier League and did not want to pay for it.

He did not rule out further differentiating Eleven's packages in the future, such as rugby-only plans or pay-per-view games, subject to the clauses of their broadcast rights.

Wasu said: "We are thinking of doing this (pay-per-view) for the Indian Premier League (cricket) next April - you either sign up for the entire series, or you could watch a game for perhaps a dollar.

"It will be an experiment for us, we will learn from it and try to extend it to other sports as well."

Wasu added that the company is working on improving the user-experience of its subscribers - from introducing high-definition broadcasts to experimenting with technology such as virtual reality and different camera angles for "live" sports events.


He said: "We are in the early stages of this revolution; a few months down the road, the experience will surpass everything else."


This article was first published on December 22, 2016.
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