An end of an Era ?

Coach Anil Kumble resigns as the coach of Indian Cricket Team just a day before India starts its West Indies tour. In his letter addressed to BCCI, he mentions about his relationship with the Indian Captain Virat Kohli.
His full resignation letter –

” I am honoured by the confidence reposed in me by the CAC, in asking me to continue as Head Coach. The credit for the achievements of the last one year goes to the Captain, the entire team, coaching and support staff.”

“Post this intimation, I was informed for the first time yesterday by the BCCI that the Captain had reservations with my ‘style’ and about my continuing as the Head Coach. I was surprised since I had always respected the the role boundaries between Captain and Coach. Though the BCCI attempted to resolve the misunderstandings between the Captain and me, it was apparent that the partnership was untenable, and I therefore believe it is best for me to move on.”

“Professionalism, discipline, commitment, honesty, complementary skills and diverse views are the key traits I bring to the table. These need to be valued for the partnership to be effective. I see the Coach’s role akin to ‘holding a mirror’ to drive self-improvement in the team’s interest.”

“In light of these ‘reservations’, I believe it is best I hand over this responsibility to whomever the CAC and BCCI deem fit.”

“Let me reiterate that it has been an absolute privilege to have served as Head Coach for the last one year. I thank the CAC, BCCI, CoA and all concerned. I also wish to thank the innumerable followers of Indian cricket for their continued support. I will remain a well-wisher of the great cricketing tradition of my country forever.”

Thank you Sir for your service to the nation.

How Star Sports is Revamping Sporting Culture In the country

2nd April, 2012. As India was celebrating its one year anniversary of 2011 Cricket world Cup win, Star India was planning for future. For Rupert Murdoch’s Star, it was the day of celebration and more importantly, revolution. On that day, Star bought the all sorts of media broadcast rights of domestic and International matches from BCCI in India. After that, Star went on to buy rights and contracts with various associations and competent authorities in its pursuit to become the India’s one stop destination for Sports viewership.

After several Mergers and revamping, Star has seemed to strike the right chord with the Indian Audience and particularly when it comes to Sports. With 11 full time channels catering to varied sporting needs, Star India has seemed to include every sport in its offing. Before analyzing the valiant efforts of Star in just 6 years time, let us dive into little bit of fact knowing about Star India.

Star India Private Limited, formerly STAR TV India is an Indian media and entertainment company, owned by 21st Century Fox. It is headquartered in Mumbai, Maharashtra. STAR India’s portfolio includes 58 channels in eight languages. As per reports, the network reaches around 650 million viewers in India per month. STAR had been for some time, India’s entertainment leader until it moved aggressively into the sports market following 21st Century Fox’s full acquisition of its pan-Asian sports joint venture, ESPN STAR Sports (ESS), in 2012.

One challenge to lofty ambition of becoming the market pioneer was the inherent programming limitations of India’s nearly singular focus on cricket.  So in addition to winning broadcast rights for cricket (breaking the nation’s all-time viewership record with last year’s world Cup), STAR set out to transform India into a multi-sport market by investing in  hockey, badminton, soccer and kabaddi. Star Sports encourages India to “Imagine a world where sports come first”. As the leading sports channel in India, Star absorbed six different sports properties under one brand: Star Sports, and with one purpose: – Believe.Dhoni-star-sports

STAR India has acquired several rights to continue its domination. Few of them are:

  • Cricketing Broadcasting rights fromBCCI for Domestic and International fixtures in India till 2018, from International Cricket Council (ICC) till 2023, from England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) till 2017 and from Cricket Australia (CA) matches till 2017.
  • Federation International De Hockey (FIH) till 2022.
  • Wimbledontill 2022
  • Bundesligatill 2020.
  • In February 2015, STAR India entered into an agreement to acquire the broadcast business of MAA Television Network Limited, an entity in India that broadcasts and operates Telugu language entertainment channels.
  • In December 2015, STAR India announced it has successfully completed the integration of the broadcast business ofMAA TV in a deal.
  • In addition, STAR India has acquired digital rights forIndian Premier League through 2017. It was one of their greatest strategic move.

Previously, Star India had Star Sports, ESPN, and Star Cricket in the Sports offing. But with the increased demand-supply spectrum, it launched STAR Sports (1 2 3 4 and HD 1 2) few years ago in order to remake the televised sports landscape in India. Moreover, from remaking the television industry, in January 2015, STAR India, launched Hotstar, a new mobile and online entertainment destination for television shows, movies and sports content. Since then, Star has been using Hotstar brilliantly as an online broadcasting medium.

Star knew buying rights weren’t enough if it is not circulated and promoted thoroughly and wisely. Star knew that in a Cricket dominating nation, the task won’t be easy. So it introduced several campaigns ensuing the sports. Through its GAME ON INDIA campaign, it set out to revive the most basic sports of India: Kabaddi. And boy, they did it miraculously well. How many of us remember any of the previously held Kabaddi World cups? The inevitable answer will be, only a handful. But last year, every random Indian knew about kabaddi World Cup and if not at least of its occurrence. The difference was quite evident: Star.images

In just 40 minutes in the midst of the 2014 monsoon, India’s sporting history experienced a revolution. In a country traditionally obsessed with cricket, it transformed Kabaddi – a sport that was dismissed as a rural pastime, and reintroduced it to the world in a high-octane TV sporting event. And true indeed. “Jeeta Dil India ka, Abb Jeetini hai duniya” (Won Indian hearts, now have to win the world), the tagline of the Indian Kabaddi Team’s campaign in the World Cups became the buzz word during the event. The World Cup gained popularity, both in stands and on television and became the most viewed Kabaddi World cup in the history.

Star went ahead as from being just a broadcaster to being a creator. “I don’t see us as a broadcasting company anymore. We are creators of content. We should be present wherever our customer is” Uday Shankar, Chairman and CEO, Star India. In September 2014, STAR India acquired a 35% minority stake in Football Sports Development Limited, a joint venture with IMG-Reliance to launch the Indian Super League, a professional soccer league. In March 2015, STAR India, in association with its affiliate, acquired a 74% majority stake in Mashal Sports Private Limited in March 2015, for the operation of the Pro Kabaddi League. Just as right as its CEO cited, Star today has become more than a broadcaster.

 “Star Sports Pro Kabaddi League is aimed at spawning a sense of ownership among Indian sports viewers for a game that has origins in their own soil”. Sanjay Gupta, MD, Star India

There has been a long fought battle in the country between Cricket and other sports combined. But Star India is looking to negate that. Whether it is Rio Olympics or various badminton tournaments or be it Hockey matches, Star Sports is making sure that every Indian sporting fan is attached to their sporting fraternity. And to do this, it has wonderfully used the social media channels and traditional marketing means. From India’s participation in World Hockey League (#Desh ke liye) to Kabaddi’s Pro Kabaddi League (#Asli Panga) or be it Olympics (#IssebadaKuchNahi), star has been successful in this attempt.hockey_india_deshkeliye_you

Star knows the impact and reach, cricket as a sports have on the country like nation and they have encashed it totally. Dharamshala ODI against New Zealand has been itched in memory and has left an indelible impression. Star’s long running campaign on women empowerment, ‘NAYI SOCH’ campaign impressed everyone and gathered attention of International Media.  By giving players (Indian Players) kit with their mother’s name written on the back, STAR INDIA once again proved its mettle in unifying sports and that too in a perfect way: by striking the emotional aspect of the country.  Recently concluded India Pakistan match in the finals of the Champions trophy registered the most watched Cricketing event in the history of the game and that is a perfect result of proper marketing. (#bleedblue).star-plus-nayi-soch-800

There is no countering the fact that STAR INDIA has started a credible initiative to commercialize and more than that, pay the deserving attention to each and every sport. A part of recent successes of various leagues in India can be attributed to various activities undertaken by Star. ‘#Mauka Campaign’, ‘#Chasing Gold’, ‘#Ready to Raid’, #This time for India etc. are some of the tagline that have become the buzz lines and it goes without saying that if other sports have to developed in the country, various other sporting channels have take up the charge, realizing their responsibility and use their position to inculcate and improve the sporting culture in the country. It may not be a financial success, but will develop the necessary sporting environment.

Pic credits: Startv.in

In the fight for extra money, Who’s losing?

“From our point of view I want to play for Australia and so do the other boys,” Warner said. “But if there’s nothing that’s put in place for what we’re trying to achieve here, from both point of views, we’re not going to tour Bangladesh, there might not be an Ashes if we don’t have an MoU.” says the Australian Vice-captain David Warner.  Warner has been the most outspoken critic of the board in recent weeks after the CA chief executive James Sutherland threatened they would be left unemployed if the ACA did not agree to CA’s term.

From what we have been hearing and know, it is just two weeks to go for the present MOU between the CA (Cricket Australia) and ACA (Australian Cricketers’ Association-an organisation that represents the professional first-class cricketers of Australia, both past and present). As the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Cricket Australia (CA) and Australia’s Cricketers Association (ACA) ends in less than a fortnight, David Warner has underlined the willingness of the nation’s top players to go without employment in order to achieve the retention of the fixed revenue percentage model which is at the heart of the pay dispute.GettyImages-692610574

“We’re prepared as players to give a little bit more in that revenue share [percentage],” he said of the ACA’s proposal to reduce the players share from around 26% to 22.5% with more money to go to grassroots levels. “They can lock us out from all the training facilities,” Warner told Channel 9. But all players have in fact been told they will maintain full access to all facilities after June 30, even if negotiations are continuing.

The Australian Cricketers Association has landed another heavy blow by making a play to take back players’ image rights and severely restrict CA’s advertising capabilities. The Cricketers’ Brand will launch on July 1, the day after the memorandum of understanding between the two parties ends, and will mean all media, advertising and promotional deals will be controlled by the ACA, and not CA. steve-okeefe-test_806x605_51488007385

Ensuing this, Australian A team flies to South Africa for the series starting from July 7 and soon after that the Australian team has to battle out Bangladesh in their own home ground. In meetings last week both CA and the players union pledged to continue discussions towards a new MOU “without prejudice”. The new cut-off date proposed is 3rd July and that is even not that far. The matter has to be resolved soon otherwise it is not the Association or the players’ loss, but the overall Cricketing fraternity’s loss.

The war for VAR: Decoding the newest referee

The 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. England vs Germany. Lampard’s long-range effort hit the bar, bounced off the ground once, before Neur gathered it safely in his hands. Except it wasn’t safe. What the officials had failed to notice, and which the video replays clearly sho

article-1289986-0A3A9AED000005DC-159_634x420wed, was that the ball had crossed the goal line before bouncing back into play. Lampard was denied a screamer and England a goal. Had it not been for the fact that Germany won a definitive 4-1 victory, there could have been a lot more uproar over the already quite controversial incident.

We have come a long way since then. With the implementation of the goal line technology, there can no longer be any mistakes with such a crucial decision in the game. Though some leagues, like the La Liga, have still not implemented this, the decision was due to financial reasons rather than any shortcomings of such a system. In fact, there are no shortcomings. However, that is more than can be said of the VAR. 14907685825830

The Visual Assistant Referee, is a system where an official takes the help of video replay to help with controversial decisions. Now, the most important difference with this system is that, unlike GLT, there are a lot of grey areas with the VAR decisions. Recently coming into news for being used in England’s 3-2 win over France, it was instrumental in Varane being sent off and England winning the penalty. The VAR again reared its ugly head for France when they were denied a goal and their opponents, Spain, allowed one, leaving them to lose the game 2-0.

Now in spite of a lot of criticism, mostly about taking the spontaneity out of the game and damaging its flow, it must be said t

hat all the decisions taken were correct. Varane’s sending off might have been a bit dicey, but then again, when is a red card not? And with gamesmanship gaining popularity among some players, now might be the time for such a system to weed out such backhanded tactics. Already implemented in the A-league in

download

Australia, it has had its share of both wins and fails. However, though it is not perfect, it may be crucial in shifting the discussion from bad refereeing decisions, as has become the norm in recent times, to actual football. But like with any change, it is being met with harsh skepticism and fierce resistance. It remains to be seen whether this experiment will stand the test of time.

What do you think about VAR and its impact. Do let us know in the comments. 

Pic courtesy: Goal.com , Getty Images, Fox world