Strong star presence, but no TV value for domestic cricket

Cheteshwar Pujara strikes the record 12th double ton of his first class career. The Delhi-UP tie offers an Ishant Sharma vs Suresh Raina exciting duel. Umesh Yadav is in action for Vidarbha. Ravindra Jadeja is donning white flannels for Saurashtra. R Ashwin is leading Chennai from the front. There is Ajinkya Rahane on the field, too.

Many of India’s international stars are gracing the domestic first class cricket this season. But without a value for or acceptance from Board of Control for Cricket in India’s broadcast partner – Star Sports. Without any exposure on television. Just one match from each round is streamed live on Star’s mobile platform – Hotstar. The all-powerful board finds little reason, strength or urgency to convince the broadcaster to broadcast at least the key Ranji Trophy games live, as has been the case in the past.

There is no likelihood of any of the league games going live on national television. Some of the matches from the knockout stage may still get live broadcast.

BCCI’s contract with the broadcaster is strong enough on monetary gains, but the clauses regarding live broadcast of domestic games give Star enough muscle to pick and choose the matches, tournaments for live broadcast.

 Star India reportedly has an obligation to broadcast live only 72 days of domestic cricket per year. The broadcaster has fulfilled its commitment with the Duleep Trophy in  September.

According to national daily Indian Express, India under-19 Challenger Trophy may be the next domestic event to go live on Star in the build-up to the colts’ World Cup in January.

While players and fans feel dejected, broadcaster’s decisions are driven by pure business sense. The domestic cricket doesn’t even attract sponsorships good enough to cover the product, broadcast and streaming costs.

Veteran opener Wasim Jaffer,  now representing Vidarbha, believes that playing in a televised match brings an added motivation to a player at every level.

“There is no doubt that selectors do watch games but many times a great impression made by a young player doesn’t get noticed. They are showing Ranji games on Hotstar but in my opinion it’s like jungle mein mor nacha kisne dekha,” Indian Express has quoted the seasoned cricketer as saying.

Many State associations, meanwhile, have been left fuming by the absence of TV coverage and put the BCCI’s failure to convince Star to change their mind to the Indian board lacking strong leadership at the top.

“India is playing ODI and T20 international games presently. We could understand if Test matches are happening and there is a clash of timing. An ODI starts at 1:30 PM and a T20 game at 7 pm. The board had made Nimbus telecast all its games so why this special treatment to Star? The COA should do something on this,” Indian Express has reported a senior State association official and former board office-bearer as saying.