ESPN Star Sports launches in Taiwan

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TAIPEI, Taiwan--Sports programming broadcaster ESPN Star Sports has launched its fifth service in Asia, this time a pay channel dedicated to the Taiwanese market.

A desire to customize, and positive feedback from viewers, drove the broadcaster to introduce ESPN Taiwan, a Mandarin-language service that is based on local viewing habits and sports preferences.

"Viewers get to see more of what they want, affiliates are better able to sell our channel, advertisers can target their audience more efficiently, eliminating waste," says Simon Yu, senior VP international sales and marketing at Hong Kong-based ESPN Star Sports.

Mr. Yu adds that a dedicated feed enables the broadcaster's sales efforts to comply with local advertising laws and restrictions.

Taiwan is no stranger to ESPN, however. Since ESPN's launch in the region five years ago, the channel has racked up a viewership of 99.3% of all cabled homes, or 4 million homes, according to the Consumer Foundation in the island nation's capital of Taipei. It also ranks as one of the top-ten cable channels in Taiwan.

ESPN Star Sports, a sports programming joint venture of Walt Disney Co.-owned ESPN and News Corp.'s Star TV Network, currently broadcasts in English, Hindustani, Mandarin and Cantonese to 25 Asian markets through its ESPN Asia, ESPN India, Star Sports North, Star Sports South, and now, ESPN Taiwan, channels.

While the ESPN channels garner an Asian viewership of 38 million homes, Star Sports' services are higher at 52 million, according to July 1998 figures.

The Taiwanese service will feature local elementsk, such as Mandarin programming, Taiwanese commentators, Chinese graphics, local ads and promos based on Taipei street scenes and Taiwanese people.

Copyright October 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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