Alokananda Chakraborty

Sony to fix cricket for Max

Sony Entertainment Television last week declared its intention of launching an innovative “made-for-television cricket format” on Sony Max

Three days after Zee TV's announcement to begin work on a new genre of television shows in India, Sony Entertainment Television (SET) last week declared its intention of launching an innovative "made-for-television cricket format" on Sony Max, in the words of Kunal Dasgupta, CEO. Besides the inspired-from-abroad spiel, the two press conferences had another thing in common: the companies refused to divulge more than surface-level details. While Zee was slightly more generous, journalists questioning the raison d'etre of the cryptic Sony press conference were met with a tight-lipped Dasgupta citing "competitive reasons".

According to Dasgupta, the idea has been borrowed from televised-cricket formats abroad, like Hong Kong Super 6's and Super 8's (comprising teams of six or eight players respectively). "The idea is to involve audience to define the course of the game", he explained. Using both television and the Internet, the company seeks to make televised cricket "interactive, participative and viewer-friendly". That is, "viewers will be able to substitute players from the bench, for one," explained Dasgupta. He aims to deliver it "live in off-season" on Set Max, a Sony-owned channel (defined by Dasgupta as comprising "Hindi movies and sporting events") launched in 1999.

This "major programming initiative", in a way, also puts Sony right into the even-management arena on a "much bigger scale than before". The channel would sign cricketers, organise the match and telecast it with built-in interactivity. Currently, it is in the process of signing contracts with players and striking a deal with "a major cricket portal". All this should be part of the Rs 200 crore spend on fresh programming announced for SET India 2001-02.

Cricket has always been one of the hotter properties on television in India. From four cameras, televised cricket has rapidly graduated to 18 cameras, including high-speed cameras moving along the boundaries, helicopter cameras and stump cameras. One-day matches took televised cricket to new highs. A live match including India is capable of taking TRPs as high as 19-20, more than the peak of KBC, according to a senior Star Sports executive. Cricket programmes today, besides matches, extend to quiz shows and chats.

But will a cricket-crazy country readily accept a redefined version of its favourite game on television? Dasgupta surely thinks so. "Well, it is an experiment," he told agencyfaqs!. Results won't show up too soon. The programme is accepted to roll out only by the end of this year.

© 2001 agencyfaqs!