We all have seen, commented and made fun of the monstrous gaffes that Mumbai Mirror has made so often. Well, it simply cannot get any bigger than this one. There are currently two parallel test series’ going on. India is hosting West Indies and South Africa is hosting Australia.
We Indians have had a terrible month of August. If someone could measure the general happiness of a general Indian, it would possibly break the wrong end of the scale. The Happiness Barometer of the mentioned general Indian is majorly governed by three key factors, the performance of the Indian Cricket Team, the performance of the stock markets and the performance of the Indian Government, in that particular order.
The Indian Cricket Team is currently on the tour of England and for the sake of being nice to them, let’s just say they are being humiliated. The first two tests of the four test series showed the glaring difference between a fitter, hungrier and better prepared side and India. Indian supporters typically were not prepared to throw in the towel. We believed this team could still level the series come August. But the bad news kept on coming. Players started getting injured and backups kept boarding flights to England every other day. The scheduled warm up match before the third test too ended in disappointment. We still believed we could pull it off, after all Sehwag and Gambhir were both again fit to play. Well, nothing of that sort has happened and it seems the number one test ranking will be unceremoniously snatched from us.
Let us move on to the more serious topic of global economy. Somehow, global economy seems to be doing worse than Indian Cricket. America has quite unceremoniously lost its AAA rating and stock markets the world over have obliged by replicating the domino effect. Investors the world over have lost Trillions of their hard earned dollars and it is no different in India. Oil prices are shooting up, dollar is getting stronger, gold prices are breaking new highs, every share is breaking their lows and ‘Double Dip’ no longer means an ice cream flavor. People are genuinely worried about how the economy will play out in the next few months and eventually in the next couple of years. For the first time in a very long time, America seems to be coming down to its knees and no one really knows how long they will take to stand back up. Everyone is getting ready to hang onto their jobs now and preparing to go on an austerity drive thanks to the lessons they got from 2008. If the bulls don’t show up anytime soon, panic will be the order of the day.
From the serious topic of economics we will now move to the much lighter topic of politics. Shambles is the word that springs to mind when one thinks of the state of the Indian Government right now. The ruling party does not know how many they need to fire to regain face, the party leader is ill (may God bless her) with a secret illness, the Prime Minister doesn’t speak much and when he does come prepared with a speech, the opposition party boycotts proceedings and doesn’t let him speak at all! Apart from all this, there are people going on fasts, CMs refusing to resign and then resigning, inflation spiraling out of control and the economy is not being kind either. The only miraculous reason this government still exists is that there is no other possible alternative.
The irony of this entire situation is that this nation will be celebrating its 64th Independence Day on 15th. This date nicely and symbolically splits this month. Maybe the start of the 65th year will be brighter and happier for its people. But the cricket team might still lose.
When Sachin Tendulkar travelled to Pakistan to face one of the finest bowling attacks ever assembled in cricket,1) Michael Schumacher was yet to race an F1 car,
2) Lance Armstrong had never been to the Tour de France,
3) Diego Maradona was still the captain of a world champion Argentina team,
4) Pete Sampras had never won a Grand Slam. When Tendulkar embarked on a glorious career taming Imran and company, 1) Roger Federer was a name unheard of
2) Lionel Messi was in his nappies,
3) Usain Bolt was an unknown kid in the Jamaican backwaters
4) The Berlin Wall was still intact
5) USSR was one big, big country
6) Dr Manmohan Singh was yet to “open” the Nehruvian economy It seems while Time was having his toll on every individual on the face of this planet, he excused one man. Time stands frozen in front of Sachin Tendulkar. We have had champions, we have had legends, but we have never had another Sachin Tendulkar and we never will.
When I was 14 years old, I had a pretty tough time dealing with academics. One of the subjects I was a little better at was Math and even in that I pretty much sucked at most of the chapters. So, I decided to practice like hell what I knew best and hope that most of the questions in the exam were from those chapters. This was when my teacher told me, don’t put all your eggs in one basket!
I don’t think the smart alecs at ESPN-Star Sports (ESS) had a teacher like that. ‘Why?’ you ask. Because they decided that if they have xxx million dollars, the best thing to do, is to put all of these xxx million in one stupid little wicker basket called cricket. Oh! I forgot they have one of their xxx eggs in the EPL!
The point is, in the fight against SET, Ten/Zee and Neo, they are trying their best to get the biggest television rights away from the others. So they bid a whopping $975 million for a ten year broadcast rights deal for the Airtle Champions League (ACL). What happened? It Bombed! Advertisers are asking their money back, agencies are saying they will not advertise in the ACL again and all of them want some compensation or the other! This is fine I guess in the short term for a giant like ESS. One might say that they have the next ten years to earn this money back. But what if it flops again? The IPL is with SET, cricket in India is with Neo and most of the other places locked up by Ten. ESS does have the ICC events till the next world cup but is that enough? Maybe they bit off more than they can chew.
The best thing they could have done in this case was move to other sports apart from cricket. Football comes to mind and one might say that they do have the costliest league – EPL. But again, is one event enough? They could have wrapped up the relatively cheaper La Liga as well, but they let it go off their hands. All they had to invest in was the broadcast rights and Sky gives them the rest (presenters, commentary and all). They have the sheer cheek to call them the home of football and start a campaign called ‘I Love this Game’! They say all that with one league? Neo has more football on TV than ESS! Ten even shows Barca TV and ManU TV apart from the UEFA Champions League!
The problem is, none of the sports broadcasters in India are focussed on what THEY want to do. They think they have figured out the Indian consumer better than HUL and everything they dish out is what we want to see! Well, as if we have a choice!
I think the Indian audience is mature enough for a ‘Complete’ sports broadcasting channel. And the sorry part is, as of today, even if ALL of these channels are combined, we still don’t have most of the quality sports from around the world.
I don’t really get this, I pay Rs. 15 per month for ONE SINGLE channel Star Cricket!The least I expect is a viewing experience that is unlike other channels which either come bundled with others or are absolutely free of cost! What I am actually getting is, more ADs than cricket, absolutely no air time for anything except the 6 balls per over, sometimes we miss the extra ball bowled due to a wide or a no-ball, miniature screens twice every over thanks to the ADs shown DURING the match and many more such atrocities! It has been ages since I have seen the bowler run in on his first ball, the batsman taking guard, the captain and the bowler having a strategic chat and many many more such things that make watching cricket an enjoyable experience. With all the ADs during the telecast, the ADs between over and wickets and the banners after every four or six, they HAVE to be earning enough to earn a sizeable profit. But no, that is not enough! They want to charge every home 15 bucks too. Do they charge Reliance for 6 ADs and air only 5? Hell no! Then why do they charge us and show us substandard television? They have stopped showing replays after a wicket has fallen just so that they can squeeze in another AD! This is robbery! And every single channel does this! I have always believed that every channel that gets revenues from advertisements should not charge viewers. What do you think?