Cricket, the most popular sport in India that gradually, but surely turned into a mass entertainer courtesy the IPL (Indian Premier League), will now be seen in a new avatar altogether.
UTV Bindass has partnered with the Delhi-based cricket academy, Indraprastha All India Sports Foundation, to create a cricket-based reality show that the channel intends to launch in February.
Christened Cricket Champs, the show will choose players from the hinterland who have the talent, but not the opportunity. Selected players will then be given the platform to showcase their talent at the national level. As per the show format, Cricket Champs will focus on cricket matches based on the T10 format, and mentor the players to polish their skills. Some of the cricket gurus on the show include Irfan and Yusuf Pathan, Keerti Aazad, and Piyush Chawla.
Cricket Champs will hunt for the next cricket superstar in markets such as Mumbai, Kolkata, Bihar, Jharkhand, and Patna, capturing the West and East zones. In the North, the hunt will be executed in Delhi, Chandigarh, Jaipur and Uttar Pradesh, while in the South, it will be held in Bengaluru and Chennai.
According to Alphonso, the channel is yet to decide on the time band. "The show will be a primetime weekly property and will run for 13 episodes. It will have one main sponsor; however, the channel intends to rope in four other associate sponsors," he adds.
Under the UTV Bindass-Indraprastha All India Sports Foundation partnership, UTV will not just position the reality show into a cricket talent hunt at the doorsteps of hinterland aspirants and groom them into future cricket stars, but will also identify the future captains or Cricket Champs. In the process, Indraprastha will coordinate with aspirants, coaches and on-ground facilities, and organise the auditions and the selection process. UTV Bindass will shoot and telecast the programme, and thereby ensure that the show reaches every household.
But, will this format work?
Navin Khemkha, senior vice-president, ZenithOptimedia, notes that such show formats have been tried before by the broadcasting industry. And, while it could work in terms of programming, depending upon how deep the show intends to penetrate across the country, creating a star out of these participants will be a tough job.
"India already has a very strong backbone when it comes to cricket. If a player is good, he will surely be playing at least at the state level. To hone and then push these new faces into the gang will, therefore, be a tough job," he says.