No song and dance, IPL will be ‘serious’ cricket, pledges STAR India
STAR India, who bagged the Indian Premier League (IPL) global media rights, are the most dominant players in cricket broadcasting but unlike Sony Pictures, they’ve concentrated solely on cricket action. Their top boss, Uday Shankar, has promised it will continue to be the case even in the cash-rich T20 league.Updated: Sep 04, 2017 20:44 IST
During its 10 years of existence, the IPL has come to be known as much for its masala and masti as for its high-voltage cricket. Well, that was Sony Pictures’ style of broadcasting. Girls dancing in lavish studios before kurta-pyjama clad commentators took centrestage became a part of the IPL experience. (IPL media rights auction highlights)
As the media rights changed hands on Monday, there’s a lot of interest as to what changes the new broadcaster will bring about.
STAR Sports, who bagged the global rights, are the most dominant players in cricket broadcasting but have so far concentrated solely on cricket action. Their top boss, Uday Shankar, promised it will continue to be the case even in the cash-rich T20 league.
“You have seen on STAR Sports (that) our focus is strictly on the sport. We believe that the spotlight should be on the sport and we will continue to do that… I am not commenting on what anybody else does,” Shankar told Hindustan Times after leading his company’s successful bid.
He refused to accept that STAR India had monopoly over the Indian cricket market. “Our BCCI rights get over in less than six months and the Indian team, over the next few years, is going to be travelling abroad so much, and we don’t have the England and Australian board rights. With IPL, we have a breather,” said Shankar.
The bidding was so close that it could be termed a last-ball win for STAR India. The difference of only around Rs 500 crore in a winning bid of Rs 16,347.5 crore proves how the winners got their strategy right.
“If it (our figures) were slightly less, we would not have got the rights. We won by a really narrow margin of 2-3 per cent, so we were very close (in predicting the right value of IPL),” the STAR chief said.
Though the IPL remains a robust property, the league has been plagued by controversies, and the BCCI itself is under scrutiny. So, did Star take these factors into account before the bid?
“Whatever controversies might have been, they have been there all the time, but the IPL has gone on to become bigger and bigger. It is for the news media, we are a sports broadcaster.”
Having earlier helped Star grab the BCCI and International Cricket Council media rights, when asked where he would place Monday’s win, Shankar said, “In each bid, you put in large sums of money of your company only because at that time it is the most sensible thing to do. Right now, we have done this because our BCCI rights were coming to an end and we wanted to redefine our cricket package.”