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Mandira to woo with 'Extra Innings'

Actor Mandira Bedi, who successfully lured housewives into watching the 2003 cricket World Cup, will again do the honours during the Champions Trophy in India October-November.

india Updated: May 01, 2006 15:23 IST

Actor Mandira Bedi, who successfully lured housewives into watching the 2003 cricket World Cup, will again do the honours during the Champions Trophy in India October-November.

"She is a long-term contracted anchor for us. She is still with us and, hopefully, she will still be with us at the World Cup," Sony Entertainment Television Max (SET Max) CEO Kunal Dasgupta said.

"I don't see a reason why she should not be there. She is our face for these events. Barring unforeseen circumstances, I don't see a chance of her not being there," he said, referring to the popular 'Extra Innings' programme that preceded every match of previous Champions Trophy and World Cups.

'Extra Innings' comprised several segments, including some light hearted like the tarot card reading, and serious ones like cricket discussions.

Having bought the rights for International Cricket Council (ICC) events, including the under-19 World Cup, reportedly for $255 million, SET Max tried to recover the huge investment by introducing Mandira, whose claim to fame till 2002 was a few television serials.

From a nervous, tentative anchor at the 2003 World Cup, Mandira became a household name by the end of the tournament and regularly figured in cricket discussions thereafter.

But despite Mandira and the high television ratings of those matches, SET Max does not seem to have recovered the money it had invested.

With only two ICC events of their contract left - the 2006 Champions Trophy and the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies in March-April - Dasgupta hoped the company would eventually make a profit.

Asked if the ICC contract has been a profitable venture for SET Max, he said: "At the end of the World Cup it will be a profitable venture in totality."

Did this mean that the company has so far not recovered its money?

"Well, it's an entire project, so by the end of the World Cup, it will be a profitable. By the time we complete the full cycle, yes," Dasgupta maintained.

He said that irrespective of profit or loss, SET Max would again bid for the next round of broadcast rights from ICC.

"I am quite confident that at the appropriate time the ICC will talk to us for the renewal. We have already thrown our hat in the ring and said we are there," he disclosed.

Asked what encouraged the company to bid again, Dasgupta said this was primarily because of the belief that SET Max was the "home" of the World Cup.

"We have added so much value to it that the ICC and the broadcasters worldwide recognise it, and it's a unique featuring that no other broadcaster has done," he said.

"For us, it's the most important event, more important than any other cricket tournament, because it's a multi-national event with so many countries and Sony is a multi-national company of so many businesses. It's a perfect marriage."

Dasgupta said the format of 'Extra Innings' would change for the Champions Trophy and the World Cup, but he is keeping it a close secret.

"We have to come out with some other things now, may not be so much in the Champions Trophy. We might reserve our big ideas for the World Cup. But 'Extra Innings' will of course be there in the Champions Trophy," he said.

First Published: May 01, 2006 15:23 IST