Open Petition Against ESPNSTAR (India)
Over the past decade or so, urban/semi-urban India has witnessed a paradigm shift in the way its youth talks (about)/plays/lives a particular sport. My personal experience helps me recount how I, and my friends, used to eat, sleep, breathe Cricket. Be it a high profile Indo-Pak World Cup match, or for that matter even the remotest of Ranji trophy games – they all caught our attention in equanimity.
But all that and more changed with the advent of English Premier League, straight to our TV screens. 18th August ’01, was the day when EPL games were shown for the very first time in India (on a full-time basis). Gradually, it started eating into this Cricket-crazy nation of ours, and eventually it ended up turning 9 out of my 10 friends, into Football-fanatics beyond comparison.
ESPNSTAR played an instrumental role in ensuring this change finally happened, as we as a nation, were in dire needs of more games to follow, practise, and lastly excel at. Their pre/post match coverage was excellent, comprising of a talented pool of experts, all led by the ever-so suave John Dykes. Whether it be the Monday-night Highlights show, or the Tuesday-night Football Focus, or the Wednesday-night Goals, or the Thursday-night Football Crazy, or the Friday-night Preview show; we embraced them all like none other. And who can forget those magical Champion’s League nights!? Phew, words fail me the moment I try to figure out their magnificence.
All good things must end, and so did ESPNSTAR as well (well, almost)! It all started with their failing to retain the rights for the Champion’s league, which landed at Ten Sports some two seasons back. I’m not saying the latter is any better; they have zombies as experts for starters. But at least they don’t ‘impose’ themselves upon us, the way ESPNSTAR has been doing over the past few days. If anything, they even started an ‘exclusive’ channel just for Football-lovers like us (i.e. Ten Action+), to perhaps woo us. Add a ‘lil bit of Spanish, Italian & German football, and the Europa league and we can clearly see a formidable line-up. Elsewhere, the former even lost rights to broadcast IPL, a huge set-back to its oft-lofty ambitions.
The only ‘cash cow’ ESPNSTAR was left with being the Cricket World Cup. To be very honest, it was left with no option but to leverage as much profit out of it as possible, and so it happened!
I was shocked to learn around the 20th of last month that ESPNSTAR will be showing the games feat. India, on each of the 3 channels under its umbrella – ESPN, Star Sports, and Star Cricket. At first, I just couldn’t believe what I read, but after going through their fixtures list, I was shell-shocked. Given the fact that our national broadcaster – Doordarshan – was showing the game as it is; it implied 1 game on 4 channels! Now who wants to see 1 GAME ON 4 DAMN CHANNELS!?
Where was this love when the Indian Football team took field not so long back? Aren’t they worthy enough of an extensive coverage? Forget coverage, aren’t they even good enough for a mention?
Hurting our feelings by NOT broadcasting EPL was the first thing that came to my mind. ‘Minting money’ through ads, was the second.
When someone launches a channel namely Star ‘Cricket’, not so long before the ‘Cricket’ World Cup, one expects them to base the ‘Cricket’ bit of their telecast over there. With simultaneous games (if and when), it goes without saying that a need of another channel would arise – say Star Sports or ESPN. But to telecast a SINGLE game on 3 DIFFERENT channels blew my mind away. So much so, that I genuinely wanted a proper discourse from them, and why were they ‘imposing’ this torture upon us. Hell, we don’t hate Cricket, we just love Football more! Why should anyone have a problem with that?
So after consulting few of my friends (both real-time & over various social networks), I decided to launch an online petition against them. It being an ‘Open’ petition, our motive was not to indulge into mud-slinging, etc. Our motive was to highlight this apparent case of treason, and invite fellow football fans to share their opinions on the aforementioned.
I’m glad to say that over the past 10 days or so, the petition has really gathered pace, both on Twitter & in actual form. Two days back, Goal.com featured our plight, giving the movement an additional boost. With over 1150 signatures (at the time of writing), one thing is clear that quiet literally the entire nation is behind me (read: us).
We’re not here to demean one network and raise the other to a pedestal, both are dear to us. Or abuse the people behind a move as ludicrous as this. No, we’re here with just one motive. Putting it mildly –
“We seek a reasonable explanation. We demand an apology. We want our football back.”
If we can embrace you, we, and we alone can kick you back to where you came from.
Show Your Support by Signing the Petition here – Open Petition Against ESPNSTAR (India)
Read our feature on Goal.com here –
Follow Us on Twitter @HandsOffEpl2 for real-time updates.
Tazz (Follow Me on Twitter @trulytazz)
[This post already appeared on 11gunners.com]