In an age when cricket’s success is tied to television audience, primitive methods are still used to lay broadcast equipment, mainly cables, that relay matches into living rooms.
Currently, the broadcaster hires an equipment company which in turn hires a shipment company to supply cables and related equipment to venues. It involves a lot of manual work.
Although it comes as a packaged deal to BCCI, there have been suggestions to upgrade the methods used. (The Board owns production rights while the broadcaster distributes the feed). Often, rigging (equipment laying) and de-rigging run late into the night, involving around 70-100 workers.
“When the IPL was held in Dubai (2014), we just had to plug in our cameras and equipment as the wiring/cabling was all in-built. Venues across the world have that facility these days,” said a broadcasting official. “Unfortunately, even the new stadia in India lack this facility. As a result we have kits that have to be transported on trucks and planes and labour needs to be employed to rig and de-rig it. When they build a stadium here, they don’t think from the point of view of these things.”
A proposal to do this was made at the Feroz Shah Kotla a few years ago by the Delhi association. The cost then was estimated to be about Rs 50 lakh. The proposal, however, was dismissed.
Says a senior official: “Broadcast companies don’t mind paying Rs 2-4 lakh per match for this service, to avoid the cost and headache of carrying the equipment. With so many matches being played, especially with the IPL around, the cost could have been recovered by the association or the Board.”
Ratnakar Shetty, the IPL COO says, “It involves huge capital expenditure but we are weighing our options. We don’t want to be left in a situation where we invest and it becomes obsolete. But we have been discussing optic fibre cables.”
India having too many stadia is also a hindrance. Shetty says, “Even when we do it, we will do it at venues which host IPL games as well as internationals. That’ll mean 7-8 venues at the most.”