IPL May 27, 2010

Viewers are people too

Advertisers, cricket boards and commentators would do well to be advised that cricket watchers are not creatures with the attention spans of goldfish hooked on caffeine
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Shortness of breath and nausea are among the effects of exposure to IPL telecasts, scientists have found © AFP
 

Last week saw the publication of a survey, presumably conducted by the Department of the Glaringly Obvious at the University of Duh!, which found (and you might want to be seated for this) that mid-over adverts during the IPL were not, repeat not, popular with television viewers. I know, surprising eh? Who could have guessed that being subjected to a continuous stream of visual marketing junk might begin to rankle a teensy bit with the watching public?

Now, in the interests of fairness, I should say that advertising can have beneficial side effects. For instance, yesterday, in search of distraction from my list of chores, I slumped onto my sofa and flicked through a few channels. In no time at all, I had racked up a new record of eight consecutive adverts without seeing a single scheduled programme. I was so irritated, I decided to clean out my fridge instead. Thus, thanks to advertising, my kitchen no longer smells and I burned a few more calories hacking away at encrusted ice with a screwdriver.

It is also worth pointing out that the cricket watcher’s relationship with brand peddling is not a straightforward one. Certain ad campaigns, if they are sufficiently well conceived and interwoven with the cricket, can become part of the experience. For example, the short sequences on a fictional Caribbean beach that ran during the recent World Twenty20 were almost entertaining, which is pretty much the pinnacle of advertising achievement.

However, I will be honest, I would have to think twice and possibly seek a third opinion from my subconscious to recall precisely which product it was promoting. And it isn’t just me. Apparently half of IPL 3 viewers were unable to remember the main shirt sponsors of their favourite team. Even more astonishingly, a quarter of respondents could not name a single IPL advertiser. And if that doesn’t warm the cockles of your heart, then you are probably Lalit Modi. Or an accountant.

Those of us who watched the IPL from these damp and clammy shores were fortunate in that we did not have to endure the mid-over brainwashing. I cannot imagine what it must have been like. The sheer effort required to maintain concentration in the face of such a barrage of nonsense must have been enormous. And the necessity to press the mute button so often must have left Indian cricket viewers with the most muscular thumbs in the developed world.

Now the IPL, it is true, is not the typical cricket event. It is an enormous, powerful, magnificent elephant of a tournament, with far too many people trying to squeeze into the howdah. But this overloading of the viewer’s plate with great steaming piles of commercial propaganda is symptomatic of how the cricket spectator is seen. We are not real people, we are demographics, we are potential market share, we are viewing figures, we are just the saps who buy the KKR pyjamas and the Yuvraj tea cosies.

Commentators are no better. They think we have the attention spans of goldfish on caffeine, and so they shout gibberish, make bad jokes and generally carry on like holiday-camp entertainers. Expert summarisers think we are too stupid to understand technical matters and so lard their punditry with dollops of lazy, can’t-be-bothered observations. Isn’t it about time the viewer got a better deal? After all, without us there would be no IPL.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • the bear jew on May 28, 2010, 17:31 GMT

    ....must have left Indian cricket viewers with the most muscular thumbs in the developed world. couldnt agree with you more , andrew. still i think you are losing your touch just a little bit. the articles you came up with, say, 2 months or so ago used to be much better than your most recent ones. you still are my favourite writer on cricinfo (and that of quite a few other fans as well, i'm sure) so please get back to your best soon

  • Srikanth on May 28, 2010, 8:42 GMT

    Thanks ANdrew, all comments point that you have hit the right topic this time.... IPL is a WHITE ELEPHANT. Dump it and revive test cricket. Throw the advertisers out and provide good cricket and let the game provide the entertainment.

  • Srikanth on May 28, 2010, 8:30 GMT

    I posted a comment yesterday. I see that it has not appeared here though comments posted much later are appearing. Is this a deliberate ploy to block my comments, Andrew? Anyway, in between the ad-show I could see something which was known as the IPL

  • Sam - London on May 28, 2010, 6:46 GMT

    Started reading your fantastic article 'til I was distracted by the Virgin media advert. Still, I'm sure the pertinent points were adressed.

  • Dinesh on May 28, 2010, 2:54 GMT

    IPL epitomises the new breed of Indians with money and no style or class.It may jar your senses but living in India, I have hardly heard any complaints.It is no developed world either.Don't pander to popular sentiments so that what you write gets acceptance.

  • Niall on May 27, 2010, 20:20 GMT

    Goodness me, Andrew, this is the best thing you've put up on here. Bravo. Deeply felt and I agree with all of it.

  • karan gera on May 27, 2010, 19:08 GMT

    I think your views are as tiring and jaded as the advertisements. Even your observations are as lazy as the commentators your criticisms and as obvious as the findings of the University of Duh!. You are a product of a jaded western society that is tired of marketing practices over the years so you think every one alse around the world shares your view. India is experiencing full blown capitalism for the first time and I believe people are not as negative about the promotions as you make it out to be. Take off your jaded hat and then report on this topic.

  • srinin on May 27, 2010, 17:43 GMT

    I dont know how the Cricinfo editors allowed this article to be published!

    You have got all facts wrong. First it was IPL not even T20. Definitely not cricket. Then we did not have see any imagination at all. A colossal amount of time was wasted in showing something aboslutely boring. A guy running with the ball in hand, a few guys chasing a ball. All I wanted to see was whther the guy with that wooden stick hit the ball or the ball hit one of those three sticks this guy was not holding. Instead they cd have shown us the 47th new mobile or the 9671st face cream that makes you look fairer than you are.

    And who are the commentators you are talking about? I only heard guys with drums and trumpets crying hoarse about a ballon on the sky or 'moment of maximum success' or some such phrase.

    There were a guys sitting around in the studio performing a mimicry show - mimicking a broken gramaphone record!

    Get the facts right! And Cricinfo Editors, check facts or get fired by a Dimo gun.

  • Sam on May 27, 2010, 15:56 GMT

    Advertising everywhere. Bats, helmets, shoes, stumps, umpires, pitch, ropes, side boards, sight-screens, 3rd umpire.

    Exclusive beers and food in grounds.

    Plus commentators getting their share.

    All cricket should be ashamed, especially the soul-less IPL.

  • tim on May 27, 2010, 14:34 GMT

    Harsh Raut... harsh and bitter and a chip on your shoulder about the English! Must be a big one to prefer moronic advertising to anything!

  • the bear jew on May 28, 2010, 17:31 GMT

    ....must have left Indian cricket viewers with the most muscular thumbs in the developed world. couldnt agree with you more , andrew. still i think you are losing your touch just a little bit. the articles you came up with, say, 2 months or so ago used to be much better than your most recent ones. you still are my favourite writer on cricinfo (and that of quite a few other fans as well, i'm sure) so please get back to your best soon

  • Srikanth on May 28, 2010, 8:42 GMT

    Thanks ANdrew, all comments point that you have hit the right topic this time.... IPL is a WHITE ELEPHANT. Dump it and revive test cricket. Throw the advertisers out and provide good cricket and let the game provide the entertainment.

  • Srikanth on May 28, 2010, 8:30 GMT

    I posted a comment yesterday. I see that it has not appeared here though comments posted much later are appearing. Is this a deliberate ploy to block my comments, Andrew? Anyway, in between the ad-show I could see something which was known as the IPL

  • Sam - London on May 28, 2010, 6:46 GMT

    Started reading your fantastic article 'til I was distracted by the Virgin media advert. Still, I'm sure the pertinent points were adressed.

  • Dinesh on May 28, 2010, 2:54 GMT

    IPL epitomises the new breed of Indians with money and no style or class.It may jar your senses but living in India, I have hardly heard any complaints.It is no developed world either.Don't pander to popular sentiments so that what you write gets acceptance.

  • Niall on May 27, 2010, 20:20 GMT

    Goodness me, Andrew, this is the best thing you've put up on here. Bravo. Deeply felt and I agree with all of it.

  • karan gera on May 27, 2010, 19:08 GMT

    I think your views are as tiring and jaded as the advertisements. Even your observations are as lazy as the commentators your criticisms and as obvious as the findings of the University of Duh!. You are a product of a jaded western society that is tired of marketing practices over the years so you think every one alse around the world shares your view. India is experiencing full blown capitalism for the first time and I believe people are not as negative about the promotions as you make it out to be. Take off your jaded hat and then report on this topic.

  • srinin on May 27, 2010, 17:43 GMT

    I dont know how the Cricinfo editors allowed this article to be published!

    You have got all facts wrong. First it was IPL not even T20. Definitely not cricket. Then we did not have see any imagination at all. A colossal amount of time was wasted in showing something aboslutely boring. A guy running with the ball in hand, a few guys chasing a ball. All I wanted to see was whther the guy with that wooden stick hit the ball or the ball hit one of those three sticks this guy was not holding. Instead they cd have shown us the 47th new mobile or the 9671st face cream that makes you look fairer than you are.

    And who are the commentators you are talking about? I only heard guys with drums and trumpets crying hoarse about a ballon on the sky or 'moment of maximum success' or some such phrase.

    There were a guys sitting around in the studio performing a mimicry show - mimicking a broken gramaphone record!

    Get the facts right! And Cricinfo Editors, check facts or get fired by a Dimo gun.

  • Sam on May 27, 2010, 15:56 GMT

    Advertising everywhere. Bats, helmets, shoes, stumps, umpires, pitch, ropes, side boards, sight-screens, 3rd umpire.

    Exclusive beers and food in grounds.

    Plus commentators getting their share.

    All cricket should be ashamed, especially the soul-less IPL.

  • tim on May 27, 2010, 14:34 GMT

    Harsh Raut... harsh and bitter and a chip on your shoulder about the English! Must be a big one to prefer moronic advertising to anything!

  • Prashant on May 27, 2010, 13:21 GMT

    I've grown quite attached to my Yuvraj tea cosy though...

  • Fahad on May 27, 2010, 13:02 GMT

    The middle over adverts were in Pakistan too mate, and that stuff caused boycotting of the thing being advertised and the advertiser

  • Pradyuman on May 27, 2010, 11:18 GMT

    Absolutely. i do like to watch ipl selectively (tendulkar plays there), but last night i happened to watch an 1998 final of a shrjah tournie between india and zim (where tendulkar had scored another ton) and there were only two really small sponsor logos on the indian team jersy - one on the arm and one on chest - and the rest was all pristine blue. cricket with lesser money, notwithstanding all the jazz about the players' empowerment and betterment, was so much more enchanting, so much more real and meaningful. we have lost it, perhaps forever and i shudder even at the idea of watching tests in coloured clothings. money beats soul every time.

  • P Satish on May 27, 2010, 11:10 GMT

    Cricinfo's editors and its readers(me included) seem to be no better though. The editors put whatever garbage they can find on Page 2 and the people read it.

  • Adway on May 27, 2010, 10:39 GMT

    Hell's bells! If we cannot still remember the advertisers then we are in for a lot more advertising. Now there will be advertises when bowler is running to the wicket, while ball is traveling to the batsman & while ball reaches the boundary-line!

  • Sharu on May 27, 2010, 10:35 GMT

    Quite right Andrew. Cannot agree more with you. This is exactly what every cricket lover is thinking.

    But, hold on a minute... this column was supposed to be funny (even if not innovative)!

  • B S Kumar on May 27, 2010, 10:16 GMT

    Absolutely not! You are just a demographic to Modi and his ilk. You think they care what you feel? They should, but they will only when we all switch off, in huge numbers, because even with reality checks, the IPL is the biggest bandwagon everybody wants to be on. Kind of stupid when you have to watch Sehwag and Gambhir fight over a cell phone three times an over, and still cannot remember what phone!

    It won't be long before the advertisers realize they're not getting the sales they thought they were going to get as a ratio of the eyeballs they paid for. Right now, this is what can happen if people with no class in their thinking whatsoever are suddenly in control of big money. A lot of cheap booze is going to flow, and flush us with it.

  • SRIKANTH on May 27, 2010, 9:46 GMT

    Andrew, I would like to point out a minor error that you have made - IPL is not a magnificient elephant - it is a WHITE ELEPHANT ;-) . The subject line voices what millions of viewers would endorse and agree with. The advertisements are too many and too frequent...even the promoters themselves do not know what they are promoting. IPL boomed only because of advertisements - remember a STRATEGIC BREAK???? IPL is spoiling cricket - who would have thought of having fireworks, skimpily clad cheerleaders, music and DJ's in a GENTLEMAN's GAME called CRICKET??? IPL is a poor show which is meant to spoil cricket rather than to promote it. I would rather watch a series of advertisements with a bit of IPL live feeds thrown in...that makes the advertisements more efficient. Now if this is NOT A KARBONN COMMENT... the topic is hit for a DLF MAXIMUM...hell - advertising vs IPL - IPL is better. Andrew - the topic is a good one.

  • Sam on May 27, 2010, 9:18 GMT

    "how the cricket spectator is seen. We are not real people, we are demographics, we are potential market share, we are viewing figures"

    Awesome ... but the sad truth is to most Indians cricket/IPL is no different from a TV Show or a Movie and they are just "viewers". From India by the way

  • Avid IPL viewer on May 27, 2010, 9:01 GMT

    What? Was there actual cricket during the IPL? How did I miss that? I only tuned in just to watch those totally fascinating advertisements!

  • Harsh Raut on May 27, 2010, 8:01 GMT

    Oh spare us id rather those ad's than the boring stuff the likes of those geriatric english cricketers on sky spew out...... and irritatingly enough when the cricket gets exciting , they cut to the studio in sky / itv wahtever and have a voice over of comments from people who have won squat in t 20 format and talk nonsense most of the time ..... bring on the ad's anytime rather than itv's english commentators

  • Vikram Pyati on May 27, 2010, 7:37 GMT

    Absolutely correct !!!! Viewers are a market which the advertisers try to tap into. Nothing inherently wrong in that. Everything needs to be marketed. In fact, ICC is also trying to market Cricket in USA. The problem is with the administrators (BCCI? Modi?) who try to only make money, where as money should be their second priority. Cricket should be the first.

  • Flux Redux on May 27, 2010, 7:23 GMT

    I agree with everything you wrote, apart from the "developed world" reference.

  • cuddly on May 27, 2010, 7:01 GMT

    Indeed, the Caribbean beach interludes were a pleasure to watch when compared to the normal drivel one is served up. Like you I am unsure what product or sponsor they were actually advertising but it was funny,

  • Sam Shotter on May 27, 2010, 6:34 GMT

    These are my exact thoughts, that I could never manage to put into words because all that comes out is an angry sputtering, whenever I try to speak on this topic. I don't suppose the panjandrums in the IPL will ever see sense though,

  • Anonymous on May 27, 2010, 6:26 GMT

    heheheheh

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • Anonymous on May 27, 2010, 6:26 GMT

    heheheheh

  • Sam Shotter on May 27, 2010, 6:34 GMT

    These are my exact thoughts, that I could never manage to put into words because all that comes out is an angry sputtering, whenever I try to speak on this topic. I don't suppose the panjandrums in the IPL will ever see sense though,

  • cuddly on May 27, 2010, 7:01 GMT

    Indeed, the Caribbean beach interludes were a pleasure to watch when compared to the normal drivel one is served up. Like you I am unsure what product or sponsor they were actually advertising but it was funny,

  • Flux Redux on May 27, 2010, 7:23 GMT

    I agree with everything you wrote, apart from the "developed world" reference.

  • Vikram Pyati on May 27, 2010, 7:37 GMT

    Absolutely correct !!!! Viewers are a market which the advertisers try to tap into. Nothing inherently wrong in that. Everything needs to be marketed. In fact, ICC is also trying to market Cricket in USA. The problem is with the administrators (BCCI? Modi?) who try to only make money, where as money should be their second priority. Cricket should be the first.

  • Harsh Raut on May 27, 2010, 8:01 GMT

    Oh spare us id rather those ad's than the boring stuff the likes of those geriatric english cricketers on sky spew out...... and irritatingly enough when the cricket gets exciting , they cut to the studio in sky / itv wahtever and have a voice over of comments from people who have won squat in t 20 format and talk nonsense most of the time ..... bring on the ad's anytime rather than itv's english commentators

  • Avid IPL viewer on May 27, 2010, 9:01 GMT

    What? Was there actual cricket during the IPL? How did I miss that? I only tuned in just to watch those totally fascinating advertisements!

  • Sam on May 27, 2010, 9:18 GMT

    "how the cricket spectator is seen. We are not real people, we are demographics, we are potential market share, we are viewing figures"

    Awesome ... but the sad truth is to most Indians cricket/IPL is no different from a TV Show or a Movie and they are just "viewers". From India by the way

  • SRIKANTH on May 27, 2010, 9:46 GMT

    Andrew, I would like to point out a minor error that you have made - IPL is not a magnificient elephant - it is a WHITE ELEPHANT ;-) . The subject line voices what millions of viewers would endorse and agree with. The advertisements are too many and too frequent...even the promoters themselves do not know what they are promoting. IPL boomed only because of advertisements - remember a STRATEGIC BREAK???? IPL is spoiling cricket - who would have thought of having fireworks, skimpily clad cheerleaders, music and DJ's in a GENTLEMAN's GAME called CRICKET??? IPL is a poor show which is meant to spoil cricket rather than to promote it. I would rather watch a series of advertisements with a bit of IPL live feeds thrown in...that makes the advertisements more efficient. Now if this is NOT A KARBONN COMMENT... the topic is hit for a DLF MAXIMUM...hell - advertising vs IPL - IPL is better. Andrew - the topic is a good one.

  • B S Kumar on May 27, 2010, 10:16 GMT

    Absolutely not! You are just a demographic to Modi and his ilk. You think they care what you feel? They should, but they will only when we all switch off, in huge numbers, because even with reality checks, the IPL is the biggest bandwagon everybody wants to be on. Kind of stupid when you have to watch Sehwag and Gambhir fight over a cell phone three times an over, and still cannot remember what phone!

    It won't be long before the advertisers realize they're not getting the sales they thought they were going to get as a ratio of the eyeballs they paid for. Right now, this is what can happen if people with no class in their thinking whatsoever are suddenly in control of big money. A lot of cheap booze is going to flow, and flush us with it.