My dear Neo Sports

I must congratulate you on achieving the seemingly impossible: you have managed to make me watch cricket on Doordarshan.

Not because the national broadcaster has suddenly transformed into something rich and strange – not a chance. The images still look like they came out wrong in the color wash, and the Hindi commentators continue to provide spontaneous, if largely unintentional, amusement.

I discovered Doordarshan largely by accident. At some point during Sunday’s ODI at Guwahati, I went to get a cup of tea and came back to find an ad break that stretched interminably. I wondered why: Had drinks been called for? Or did a wicket fall? Was the batsman fiddling with the sightscreen?

I didn’t have a clue. My restless fingers accidentally hit the ‘guide’ button on the remote, and right up top on the list I saw that DD was showing the game. I hopped over – and found that a new batsman was taking strike. So I was right. A wicket had fallen; there were some replays to show where the ball had pitched and where Hawkeye thought it would hit; a new batsman had walked in – and you did not in your wisdom think I’d be remotely interested in any of these things.

Instead, when a ball from Bollinger hit MS Dhoni on the pad, you waited only long enough to see the umpire begin to raise his hand, and you promptly switched to an ad the tag line of which was ‘Dhak Dhak Go!’. Don’t get me wrong – I am truly appreciative of the sense of humor implicit in that choice of advertisement.

But India was on the skids at the time; Dhoni seemed to be digging in to try and author a turnaround and I really wanted to see if that was a fair decision, whether the wicket had fallen because of the bowler’s skill, the batsman’s inability, or the umpire’s idiocy. Instead, I learnt that some form of automobile lubricant is now available in a 90 ml packing and that it costs Shah Rukh Khan only Rs 7 per sachet to keep his good looks.

At that point I switched to DD, and learnt that the ball had landed within the stumps, but was going straight on, which meant that it was possibly missing off stump, which meant that Dhoni’s attempt at revival had been cut short by the umpire.

All of this may not be as important as the fact that lubricants come in 90 ml packages and some brand of skin bleach now costs only seven bucks a go – but what to say, there is no accounting for tastes, and mine run to the cricket, not to being fair and handsome [No point, no, when you reach an age where chance-met lovelies call you ‘uncle’?].

Don’t get me wrong – I know why you have to be quick on the trigger; I appreciate why you squeeze advertisements in at any and all moments when ball and bat are not in close proximity. After all, if you pay Rs 2400 crore to the BCCI, the only way you are going to make it back is by selling as many ad spots as you possibly can, and then cutting every conceivable corner to rack up the play count.

I had hoped that things would change once your four-year contract ended, but I see that you have this cozy deal with the BCCI whereby you have the option of renewing your contract without going through the tedious formalities of a competitive tender.

But see, all that is your problem. Mine is that I want to see as much of the cricket as I possibly can.



15 thoughts on “My dear Neo Sports

  1. I am watching the series on DD and yes it is not the best of the best in terms of technology. But it is sometimes much better than other channels.

    I had written a post back when the Dhoni Sehwag dispute was being given unlimited attention in media…

    Also check out their panelists Vijay Dahiya and Anjum Chopra…they are quite good.
    But DD also stumbles once in a while in live commentary and all.

  2. oh!! I have been watching these games only on DD 🙂 – and I keep the TV on mute – I would rather just watch the game than listen to inane commentary from folks sitting at the studio.

    Also, it helps keep Arun Lal and LSiva at bay! man! they are so pathetic.

    • btw DD is being an angel now as there are very few people ready to advertise on their channel than on Neo. We know how DD was when they had a monopoly!

    • I find Ravi Shastri and Sunny no better! watched DD match and heardcommentary after a long time in India,it was a pleasant change from the verbal dysentry of the above mentioned,as I had no expectation from DD,I do miss a Richie Benaud and a Christopher Martin Jenkins why did they have to be so good!

  3. One of the joys of watching cricket in the US is *no* ads or at most a few for world cup events and so forth. It makes it a lot quieter though. BCCI/ IPL risk killing the golden goose.

  4. You cannot call it killing the golden goose. It is more like torturing the golden goose. The goose would be dead once the Indian TV audience dumps cricket for something else. Right now the Indian TV sports market cricket has no competition so this torture will continue.

    In the US the NFL is the #1 provider of sports entertainment. Even the big mighty NFL cannot take the sports fan for granted if they do the US sports fan has many other choices like NBA,baseball,motor racing or even poker. Every year the quality of the Football broadcast has been improving. Now with the HDTV on a big screen the coverage has been so good that the NFL is now having another problem. People prefer to watch the game on TV rather go to the stadium. Now the stadiums are trying to keep up like the new Cowboys stadium in Dallas which has giant HD screen whose size is equivalent to 15000 times of a 50 inch tv.

  5. Ditto Prem,

    I dont like the fact that DD gets to make money on something that they have not paid for but then I did watch this series on DD because Tata sky has the habit of raising the package prices just before a series. And to order a package, all we have to do it just send an SMS. To cancel it, wait on thier help line for about 10 minutes.

    And sometimes the Hindi nuggets are more interesting then the game like the times when they dont know if there is a fielder at deep squareleg and are trying to guess if the shot is going to be a four or will be cut off.


  6. Hello Prem,

    The same applies to ESPN-Star as well (during the Champions Trophy in SA). They did the same stuff while DD patiently waited till the batter’s score was displayed when he got out. Looks like the guys who were doing their jobs on Neo, ESPN have now joined DD.


    • yeah! i was wanting to watch cricket back on ESPN after the joke of a world cup broadbast and the IPL on set max, but i was so disappointed, cos they too had started switching to ads so soon!

  7. I don’t get Neo Sports, so I had to watch it on DD. I always thought that DD is the worst when it comes to ad-switching. They are known to switch at the last ball even before the ball reaches wicketkeeper’s gloves. But times change and looks like we have a new winner.

  8. Prem,
    Ages ago, I remember BCCI giving warnings to NEO Sports about the quality of cricket coverage. Not sure what it has done to improve the quality.

    I am lucky enough to get it in Sky Sports 1/2 where the coverage is exactly what you would like to see . Cricket and pure cricket. Makes me wonder what their revenue model is and why can’t neosports adope something similar to it!


    • Mate

      When you look at how much Sky charges for their sports package, it’s easy to see how they make their money. Internet+tel+ Sky sports pack comes to about £ 45/month. Ain’t cheap, but for my cricket /soccer overdose I don’t have much choice !!

      To watch cricket here in UK , it’s either Sky or nothing. With that kind of monopoly in the market, they easily make their dough. Added to it with all the big EPL / Primera Lega monopoly, it’s a simple deal.

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