January 30, 2010

IPL

The British summer pastime that is the IPL

Andrew Hughes


The IPL will go where no Twenty20 cricket has gone before: into the British consciousness © AFP
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So the IPL will be available to British viewers on YouTube. Like a Sreesanth celebration jig, this is both cheering and yet at the same time a little unsettling. Last year, I watched the IPL on Setanta, that yellow-hued disaster zone masquerading as a sports channel. Sadly, Setanta, with its plastic studio, nervous presenters and no-thrills approach is no longer with us. So that’s a step forward.

But YouTube? YouTube is fine if you want to watch homemade videos on how to eat crisps, trailers for films you aren’t interested in and grainy, wobbly footage of computer games playing on someone else’s television, but is this really the setting for live sport? If several million people access it once, will it cope? Will IPL watchers be forced to put up with five minute buffering pauses between the delivery of Munaf’s slower ball and its arrival?

Still, you can’t fault the logic behind this attempt to ensure that everyone on the planet gets to see a little bit of the IPL. I don’t often quote Lalit Modi and I may never have cause to do it again, but this sentence is worth repeating.

“It is about broadening the fan base, after that, everything follows.”

Now read that again, slowly and let the full wisdom sink in. Pay particularly close attention if you work for the ECB and you spend most of your time trying to persuade people of the absolute necessity of keeping English cricket hidden away where most people can’t see it. Fan base. Broadening. Get it? Perhaps this is why the IPL is a global television event, whereas the Friends Provident T20 (stop chuckling, please, there really is such a thing) isn’t.

Of course, this cutting out of the studio-based middle man will not go down well in some quarters. One of the features of YouTube is the opportunity for free and largely uncensored expression that exists beneath each uploaded video. Perhaps we might start to see unsolicited cyber outbursts from disgruntled SKY microphone jockeys who had hoped to land the IPL presenting gig:

DGowerOBE: LOL, did u see that shot? ROTFL! If that shot was a wine, it‘d B like a really ordinary Chateauneuf de Pap. MayB a 1997 or a 1986!
Athers185notout: No it wouldn’t
DGowerOBE: Ur jus disagreeing 4 the sake of it
Athers185notout: No I’m not
Nass1999: Leave it guys
DGowerOBE: It’s got nuthin to do wit U, big nose
TheBumble: This IPL is Gr8!
Athers185notout: No it’s not
DGowerOBE: It’s pants. Isn’t it, Bob
MrBobWillis: Since all human endeavour is essentially pointless, I would have to say that this entire tournament has been an utter disaster from start to finish and I’ve hated every minute of it, quite frankly.

But whether it is on YouTube, Sky, The Shopping Channel, or even beamed directly through our dental fillings via Lalit Modi’s personal satellite, the IPL has become as essential to the British springtime as the smell of ripe manure, the Cheltenham Festival, scattered snow showers, the optimistic deployment of three-quarter length shorts and coming up with plausible reasons why the lawn cannot be mowed. Roll on March 12th.

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Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

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Posted by Demarlo on (November 10, 2012, 16:49 GMT)

You raelly saved my skin with this information. Thanks!

Posted by SR Kannan on (February 3, 2010, 8:10 GMT)

It's all about increasing the fan base and making sport reachable to make it popular. I'm right now following 3 different matches on cricinfo commentary as I multi-task at work and there are millions I know doing just that. So, cricket today is not about TV alone. Fan bases increase when they get to interact with something live and exciting happening and let's be frank, sports commentators as a breed aren't a very smart lot. That's where fan views in cricinfo and on youtube would make all the difference. As for the speeds and bandwidth, technology will sort itself out on that one on the internet. It's time the TV moguls are made to sweat a bit! Notwithstanding the Brit bias for anything non-Brit, IPL has revolutionised cricket and even in a cricket crazy country like India, I would say that Modi has taken cricket to a level, that it's no longer Tendulkar dependent for viewership, and that folks is saying something. Modi deserves a Nobel for cricket if there were one!

Posted by Vikas on (February 2, 2010, 21:25 GMT)

Be on the look out for the Matches in Dharmashala Stadium. Thats the most beautiful place to build a stadium. With Mammoth White snow capped mountains on the backdrop , people can see India beyond Cricket and IPL

Posted by Dave on (February 2, 2010, 13:20 GMT)

I'm with Sam... IPL is lame.

Posted by firey1 on (February 2, 2010, 7:36 GMT)

IPL is rubbish where ever you watch it.

Posted by Abhay Sharma on (February 2, 2010, 4:14 GMT)

So what is BBC going to do this time? Block ALL IP's streaming these matches or hold UK employers accountable for letting any of their employees watch or talk IPL :)

Posted by Abhay Sharma on (February 2, 2010, 4:12 GMT)

@Sam, Who are you kidding!!! IPL has a huge fan-base in UK. I am in the US and during IPL2, I was in touch with my friends in the UK and Germany. They had huge groups watching the games together. They also lamented the self-imposed blackout by BBC regarding IPL. As far as I know, they are very excited about IPL3 as well and are looking forward to watch it on youtube, for free, of course. The sheer size and intensity of these games cannot be matched with any other cricketing extravaganza elsewhere. England had its pathetic attempt (read Stanford) at T20 with WestIndies and BBC did hype it a lot. Everyone knows what happened. If you enjoy cricket, you'll love it. You don't have to tell anyone you watched it. Afterall its on the internet and you can just huddle behind a screen and enjoy :)

Posted by Jigar Mehta on (February 1, 2010, 11:53 GMT)

@Sam, such a loser you are. There is no domestic tournament in this whole world to even come close to IPL the buzz and the intensity everyone gets is unreal. KP's and Freddie's are running for it, have you ever heard of a reasonable cricketer dying to play for your stupid english county cricket. if you can't stand the prosperity of cricket than you better stop following it. Anyway a very good article by Andrew.

Posted by dhchdhUK on (January 31, 2010, 15:37 GMT)

Cant wait to watch IPL for free!!!!! Saw it last year & the year before..awesome.Beats any domestic tournament handsdown

Posted by Sam on (January 31, 2010, 14:17 GMT)

In UK who wants to watch IPL ?? the answer is NO ONE.

we have got our own strong domestic cricket and our intl X1 to follow, why would we watch IPL of local indians with some out dated and 3rd class international tes player...so better stick to indian viewer and leave us alone cuz we aint interested

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrew Hughes
Andrew Hughes is a writer and avid cricket watcher who has always retained a healthy suspicion of professional sportsmen, and like any right-thinking person rates Neville Cardus more highly than Don Bradman. His latest book is available here and here @hughandrews73

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