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Why has Live Cricket from New Zealand disappeared from Indian TV sets?

Jayesh Sinha
22.30K   //    11 Feb 2016, 13:22 IST
New Zealand Cricket India broadcast
NZ have played some outstanding cricket this season, but the Indian fans have been deprived of all the action

It seems the cricket broadcasters believe that an Indian cricket fan will only see cricket matches if they are broadcast at a convenient time, and that a match starting at 0300 hrs is not a convenient time. Nothing else can explain the absence of Live Cricket from New Zealand on Indian TV screens.

Also read: India Vs New Zealand Head to Head in T20Is

India presently has 22 sports channels including the government-run DD sports, and 5 different Sports Networks available. All of them have let Indian cricket viewers down and left the Indian cricket watching community deprived of cricket matches from New Zealand.

Narrow perception about Indian audience

It's strange that in a country where any kind of cricket at all kinds of odd hours is devoured by the cricket loving public, broadcasters have refused to go in for Live broadcast from the Kiwi nation. 

One broadcaster has made the Caribbean Premier League one of the focal points of its programming, even though the matches are telecast well past midnight in India, much like cricket played from New Zealand would be.

However, despite the popularity of CPL in India, and good viewership and following, no broadcaster seems willing to broadcast cricket from New Zealand. 

Perhaps, it's also a reflection of how the broadcasters perceive the Indian cricket watching viewers as- nothing more than mindless zombies out to devour as much T20 cricket as they find, but barely interested in Test Cricket.

Is this perception correct? The broadcasters will point to the empty stands during the recent India-South Africa Test series, as an evidence of this mentality. 

What however is also the truth, is that the general perception of T20 cricket as the mass version of cricket does drive up the prices of advertisement, which makes T20 a much more financially viable option. Whether fans like it or not, money always drives the market, and sports broadcast market is no different.

Brendon McCullum New Zealand India broadcast
Indian fans couldn’t witness Brendon McCullum playing his final ODI innings

Finances hampering entertainment

New Zealand, no disrespect to anyone, are not a minor cricketing nation. They are one of the pillars on which the game of cricket stands.

While there have been many series among the smaller cricketing sides, that one can understand were not broadcast, but to have a series from New Zealand featuring major cricketing nations denied to the Indian fans is something that baffles the Indian cricket community.

New Zealand have had a busy season, as they have hosted Sri Lanka and Pakistan and are soon to host Australia for a two-match Test series. The Trans-Tasman rivalry is one of the great rivalries in cricket, but sadly for the Indian cricket fans, they will be deprived of the live broadcast of this series as well.

Sadly, it seems that money drives these things forward and no broadcaster finds any profit in games being broadcast at 3 in the morning when they feel there is little money to be made from ads, as most of the country is fast asleep.

When India had last toured New Zealand, it being an India series, the tour had found takers. However, since then for nearly two years now, there has been no broadcast of any bilateral tour matches from New Zealand in India.

The only way for cricket fans to see the games live is to hope to find a stream somewhere online, which is not as easy as it sounds. Australia’s tour to New Zealand has a special link to India, and that is that if Australia win the series they will replace India as the new no. 1 Test side in the world.

Undoubtedly, the Indian fans would have been hoping to have all the action on TV, but once again, they are going to miss out. While one cannot fault the broadcasters for keeping the finances in mind, one must also hope that the broadcasters realise that they also have a towards the fans.

Hopefully, the broadcasters can see the logic in putting sports and the fans before money, and hopefully, live cricket from New Zealand can soon return to Indian TV screens.

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Jayesh Sinha
A sports enthusiast and author of the book Greatest Sports Rivalries.
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