A losing game: Why India-SA series is a test for the broadcaster

  • Jasvinder Sidhu, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Nov 28, 2015 12:14 IST
After two Tests ended in three days and a third saw only a day’s play, Star India is counting the cost of the 75 broadcasting hours lost. (Santosh Harhare/HT Photo)

India won the third Test and series inside three days at Jamtha, Nagpur on Friday. South Africa have once again crashed to defeat on a rank turner, having surrendered in the first Test in Mohali as well with rain intervening to force a draw in Bengaluru.

But the picture is bleak behind the ‘great pitch tamasha’ as well. The short Tests have left official broadcaster Star India saddled with a huge financial loss. Star, which had won the rights to broadcast Indian cricket between 2012 and 2018 for a whopping Rs 3,851 crore, is now fuming.

Star has lost about 75 broadcasting hours as two Test matches finished within three days because of bad surfaces and only the opening day’s play was possible in the second Test. According to Star sources, the company has accrued a loss in advertisement revenue to the tune of almost Rs 80 crore so far in the series.

Read | Don’t whine about pitch in Nagpur Test, great sides win away games

“You can imagine what it is doing to us. We are losing money left, right and centre. One match has been called ‘washed out’. Two one-sided matches finished in three days. This is bad for cricket, bad for us. If matches become one-sided, then it is not good thing. I hope BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) takes note of it,” a top Star India official told HT on condition of anonymity.

‘Need quality cricket’

The Rupert Murdoch-owned Star India has been paying approximately Rs 42.20 crore for a Test. Star’s contract with the BCCI also includes internet and mobile rights and covers 96 matches.

“We are paying a huge amount to BCCI but there is no mechanism for us to recover losses in such situations. You have to take the losses. There is no other option. Only quality, competitive cricket is our saviour, which is not the case in this series,” said the official on Friday.

After India lost the Twenty20 and ODI series against South Africa, the team management desperately wanted pitches that would suit its spin bowlers. The BCCI also indicated that it would meet the team’s demand.

Read | Bad pitches have taken quality out of the Ashwin equation

Despite its frustration over the heavy loss, Star has no plan to raise the issue with the BCCI. However, it is hoping that at least the last Test at Ferozeshah Kotla, starting on December 3, is not a short affair.

“We have a broadcasting arrangement with the BCCI and we can’t start interfering in the game. But one thing is clear — this is not in the interests of the game,” he said.

As India have won the series the broadcaster would now hope the pitch for the final Test would be less challenging and ensure full five days of cricket.

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