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'Viewing experience will not be compromised' - CEO, Star Group

Nagraj Gollapudi

April 2, 2012

Comments: 24 | Text size: A | A

Uday Shankar, the CEO of the Star Group that bagged the broadcast rights for Indian cricket for 2012 to 2018 for approximately $750 million, speaks to ESPNcricinfo, answering some of the most immediate and important questions arising out of the six-year deal.

Fans in Assam watch the India-Australia quarter-final from outside a television shop, Guwahati, March 24, 2011
Uday Shankar, CEO, Star Group: 'Our confidence comes from the popularity of cricket [in India].' © Associated Press

How big a deal is this for Star TV?
Indian cricket is the biggest property in the game. The frequency and consistency of the BCCI's calendar is its biggest strength. It is a very important investment.

Star TV does not have an exclusive sports channel. Where will Star telecast the matches?
The decision is that we will exploit [the rights] or we will broadcast in collaboration with ESPN STAR Sports* [ESS].

The BCCI has always controlled production. Will the board continue to produce international matches?
Yes, the board will continue to produce matches. That does not mean it will hinder our approach. Somebody has to produce the cricket. It is a question of working along with them and I do not see any issues arising out of this. As for the question of allowing the BCCI to have an authority to appoint commentators, I cannot answer that at the moment. We have just made the deal. In any case, we will be taking such decisions in collaboration with ESPN STAR Sports, who are a lot more experienced in this regard.

You are paying 40-odd crore per match. The bid almost defies the market situation currently. What did you have in mind when you worked out the figure?
Given the viewership that cricket has in this country we feel that the value that we have attributed to it [each match] justifies itself. Our confidence comes from the popularity of cricket. And we think as the reach of media grows in this country, the penetration and popularity will automatically grow.

You also have to recover the money and in the recent past we have seen how Nimbus struggled to pay the BCCI its dues on time for various home series…
What Nimbus did or did not do is not something for us to talk about. Star is the most robust and the most dynamic media company in this country. We have a bigger reach than any other media company. We could not have built up that reach if I had not satisfied our viewers over a long period of time.

Excessive intrusion of advertisements has been a major irritant for viewers in the past. How will you ensure it will not happen?
There are very clear norms for advertising in cricket, which the Indian board has laid out. Naturally, the rights holders have to follow the norms. We at Star and ESS are very, very particular about ensuring that the viewing experience is not compromised.

*ESPN STAR Sports is a 50:50 joint venture between Walt Disney (ESPN, Inc.), the parent company of ESPNcricinfo, and News Corporation Limited (STAR)

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by koolramesh on (April 5, 2012, 6:22 GMT)

Star! Hope you dont sign up SivaRamakrishnan and Rameez Raja. Please save us.

Posted by croak on (April 4, 2012, 16:22 GMT)

Rs.40 Crore ($8M) per match! Get ready to forget the first ball run-up and the last ball's trajectory, and the rest of the action on 60% of your TV screen. 40 crore implies 40% of viewing area is for advertisements.

Posted by cricconnossieur on (April 4, 2012, 2:39 GMT)

From all the comments a few things are very clear :- All the cricket aficionados ardently wish for lesser AD breaks and less irritating commentary. Popular demand is for Ravi Shastri and Harsha Bhogle, simply because we grew up hearing them. Nasser Hussain would be an excellent addition, he doesnt pull any punches.Micheal Holding is another soothing voice. Congratulations STAR !! Its been a relief for us that SONY did not get it.

Posted by   on (April 3, 2012, 17:23 GMT)

AAH thank you lord, for stripping the rights from Nimbus..............pathetic,overdone graphic tickers (btw Star Cricket has a pretty rusty blue ticker for overseas India matches, they better get that changed) ear-soaring commentary,depressing and low quality ads(Daikin ACs? MICROMAX Mobiles?! AAAAAHHH !!!!) and a lot of non-cricket elements (sincerely, how did you even think about promoting Hockey and Agent Vinod in a CRICKET MATCH ?!)........we can say goodbye to all that.

Posted by muski on (April 3, 2012, 16:34 GMT)

Thank you Star. We are sick and tired of hearing the Elevation and Distance commentary of Sivaramakrishnan. Stick to your best lot and the IPL Tamasha will be worth watching. Please make sure we get to see a wicket replay before you jump to the AD's. Harsha as the anchor will make it nice and sweet. Long time since we heard some Sidhuisms. Maybe the bloke can be given some time to hear his mouthful.

Posted by   on (April 3, 2012, 13:13 GMT)

commentary is the main problem with nimbus my commentary panel will be legend harsha bhogle,ravi shastari cricket experts like ian chappel and sunil gavaskar we all love to hear mark taylor,richie and tony greig

Posted by   on (April 3, 2012, 10:26 GMT)

In the US, the FCC has laid down some norms for programming time v commercial breaks. Idk, if a similar norm exists in India. If someone can enlighten us on this then we can discuss this annoying commercials interference more objectively.

Posted by yadavrohit on (April 3, 2012, 9:28 GMT)

very confusing situation abt who will telecast the matches? either ESS or a new channel? i hope it will be sorted out soon. my commentator list will be: H Bhogle, R shastri, S Gavaskar,S Manjrekar, L shivramakrasnan, 3 commentators of visiting team. and at one time there should be 3 commentators(2 indian + 1 visitng team's) instaed of 2 which will make the discussion more interesting..........

Posted by gamespplplay on (April 3, 2012, 9:13 GMT)

Thank God for this... But the quality of commentary has to improve... urgently. primary problem: commentators are talking too much about too little. It would be infinitely preferred if commentators talked about the game (where it is heading), what players/captains are doing - rather than singing paeans of individual players or cricket shots. The latter has become increasingly irritating. There is depressingly little comment on the status of the game (at any point of the game). And pls ask commentators to speak judiciously - they keep babbling away even when a ball is being delivered. Prefered commentators - Ravi S, Rameez, Siva (if unavoidable), Wasim, Harsha, Slater, Alan Wilkins, Mark Nicholas. Pls Keep Gavaskar away when SRT is batting. ESPNStar: pls keep pregame/postgame shows short and sweet and, during the game, if possible, do not rush into a commercial break at the over's end - and try not to miss the first ball of the next over after the commercial break.

Posted by   on (April 3, 2012, 6:56 GMT)

will anybody explain why the interviewer asked-'''Star TV does not have an exclusive sports channel. Where will Star telecast the matches?''''nt star aports & star cricket an exclusive sports channel of Star TV???

Posted by rockyyy on (April 3, 2012, 6:51 GMT)

hope harsha is bak to buisness and supported by shastri ganguly and wasim

Posted by Romenevans on (April 3, 2012, 5:08 GMT)

Ravi Shastri, Laxman Shivramakrishnan and Wasim Akram are a huge torture with their commentary. Please no more of them. I'd prefer Mark Nicholas, tony greig, Ian Chappel and may be Sanjay Majrekar. Wasim Akram and Ravi Shastri sounds like Robots who are programed to say the same thing all day long.

Posted by   on (April 3, 2012, 3:51 GMT)

My Big question is when we will get cricket in paid advertisement free HD form. Lot of people of sick of watching advertisements and picture quality is too bad many times.

Posted by   on (April 3, 2012, 2:56 GMT)

Watching cricket in Neo was sixth ball of an over is delivered, you will only see the fielder stopping the ball for 1st ball of following replay of six/ four or wicket until you see them in highlight show...and watching cricket in 10" screen in my 48" television will hopefully disappear....

Posted by ElBeeDubya on (April 3, 2012, 0:38 GMT)

HOW TO KILL A GOLDEN GOOSE: Step 1: Show a lot of commercials without worrying about the viewers since we all love cricket. (Some people would get annoyed and stop watching cricket. This means you are losing money.) Step 2: In order to recoup your investment, show even more commercials. REPEAT cycle.

Posted by   on (April 2, 2012, 20:35 GMT)

let me clear everyone... it's STAR Network who won the contract..not STAR hv to launch a new dedicated sports channel first and BCCI is not giving producing rights to the broadcasters....!! another NEO in making...

Posted by   on (April 2, 2012, 19:41 GMT)

@sportscityferret - The boards do not have to limit their income nor does the broadcaster. The logic is simple, just pass on the additional costs to Corporate Advertisers. Increase the rates for limited advertisement slots and let the advertisers bid to buy them.

Posted by on (April 2, 2012, 19:32 GMT)

Well; here we have our desires fulfilled miraculously. I ain't sure if people could digest it or not, but through the 3 World Cup telecasts I've seen (2003, 2007 & 2012) I never found anything smacking that legacy of cricket as Star Cricket did last year. Even otherwise, among all broadcasters of international games, I find Star Cricket completely outshining other contenders. The latest two-bar telecast theme adopted by Star is very gripping and attractive and much expressive, easier as compared to other conventional patterns. Besides, the picture quality has been optimum. I only request the Star Group, if they've control over't, to try using ultra-motion or similar high speed cameras for crucial capture angles: that would help lower the no of controversial opinions given in favor of batsmen whenever the frames show uncertainty.

Posted by themightyfenoughtys on (April 2, 2012, 19:03 GMT)

let's be really clear. The cricket boards are the ones at fault for incessant commercials. if you say to a broadcaster - pay as much as you can with no limits on advertising, then they will plaster the coverage with ads. The boards have to limit the advertising and therefore limit their own income when they sell to the broadcasters, then we'll see the game in a better light.

Posted by shahbazhussain on (April 2, 2012, 18:59 GMT)

So they are throwing millions to convert into billions! that is what IPL made for!

Posted by   on (April 2, 2012, 18:51 GMT)

Good Work Star and BCCI.. Hope will get a better experience in viewing matches (including domestic season in India) and enjoy !!

Posted by   on (April 2, 2012, 18:41 GMT)

looking forward to see HD matches....

Posted by nadeemoec on (April 2, 2012, 18:29 GMT)

Awesome news...Now we the Indian fans will surely see Ranji n Duleep trophy in ESPN HD -:) with hopely same commentry team, as ESS have for international matches,,, not the Arun lal , sanjay bangar, shiv rama krishnan, VB Chadrashekar,,who bored us to death @ Neo.

With world class ESS covering crucial India domestic cricket, hope they are able to EXERT financial pressure on lousy BCCI & state associations on producing much needed SPORTING PITCHES for the matches. Otherwise watching domestic team making slow-boring 700 runs on docile-flat batting belters are pain / un intresting to watch. In the intrest of indian cricket / ESS domestic match viewership, it will be WIN-WIN scenario,,if ESS ASSERTS for SPORTING`s wishing all d very best for next 6 yrs and hopefully many decaded of ESS partneship with India cricket....

Posted by Adeel9 on (April 2, 2012, 18:25 GMT)

I'm so happy that pathetic neo is laid off. Now i'm looking to quality sports presentation.

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