Let's go back to the finals of the recently concluded ICC World Cup for a moment.
Imagine Ashish Nehra sending Aussie skipper Ricky Ponting back to the pavilion with a yorker from his incredible repertoire. Who wouldn't have liked that to happen? And if that were to happen, would you have missed the chance to examine the ball from all angles possible? Indeed, all of us would have dissected that particular ball in the minutest detail - from the line and the length, to the height, speed and the full bounce of the delivery.
Don't worry. Just as Nehra waits for that moment, STAR ESPN is working at presenting the game with a perspective never seen before on Indian television. The media house has partnered with New Zealand-based interactive sports entertainment company Virtual Spectator (VS) to bring to cricket viewing in India a real time 3D animation experience. For the records, the multi-award winning VS product is a hybrid on-line application for viewing real time 3D animation. Yachting, golf, motor sport and soccer are just a handful of the sports this technology supports.
Internationally, VS has progressed to the level of developing a PC version of the application that allows individual users to track and recreate the event real time on their desktop. VS uses the same technology used in the kids' Intendo games. In India, STAR ESPN's strategic alliance with VS entails television coverage of cricket to facilitate "intelligent viewing".
The VS application was previewed on ESPN during the India-New Zealand series in December 2002. But the animation was restricted to analysing the fielding tactics and the position of various batsmen vis-à-vis the fielding arrangement. The phase two of VS in a more advanced form is set to debut during the TVS Cup 2003 triangular series involving India, South Africa and host Bangladesh. The series would be shown live on STAR Sports from April 11.
This collaboration of VS with cricket is the first of the its kind. Talking about how ESPN stands to benefit from this partnership, Raymond Hume, director of cricket and Indian production, ESPN Software India, says, "Like the editor of a newspaper, we are also story tellers. Our sole objective is to give fresh insights into a story. Virtual Spectator does the job of making the coverage more gripping." For the Bangladesh series, the VS spots on STAR Sports would be sponsored by Onida. However, ESPN executives refused to put a figure to the VS deal. On the side, the channel is also working at promoting three animated characters - Anda Bhai, Gilli Swamy, Yogi and Runjeet Singh - to celebrate the special moments of the TVS series. "Our strategy is to relate to the Indian spectator as much as possible," says Hume.
The four animated characters, on their part, were born out of ESPN's joint venture with Hyderabad-based animation studio Color Chips. "We have 1,000 days of live cricket; so why not add that sparkle to the experience," adds Hume. "Anda Bhai sneaks out sheepishly when a batsman goes out for a duck; Gilli Swamy gleefully uproots the stumps whenever a batsman is clean bowled; sunshade-sporting Yogi rules as the 'other' third umpire; and Runjeet Singh, the most enthusiastic of the lot, does two special jigs for the ace batsmen - to celebrate their centuries and half-centuries."
For this effort too ESPN has found a sponsor. "Perfetti India has been signed on as the sponsor for these characters in a unique branding opportunity to drive the values of their brands, Chlormint, Center Shock and Alpenliebe Lollipop," adds Hume.
The interesting thing is these four characters will have a life outside cricket. Anda Bhai, Gilli Swamy, Yogi Baba and Runjeet Singh will appear during special promos on ESPN. Â© 2003 agencyfaqs!