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.