Zee Sports, which is on a high after bagging the telecast rights for the India-Sri Lanka Test series, has added more excitement. In order to further popularise cricket across different regional markets, the channel has announced simultaneous ‘Hindi, Tamil and Bengali’ audio feeds apart from English for the Test Series.
The feeds in three regional languages will start from the second Test on December 10, 2005. This is for the first time in India that cricket will have commentary in any language besides English and Hindi. The special feed in regional languages will be available to viewers on the Dish TV DTH platform.
The initiative has been welcomed by media planners, who are happy to see a new initiative in the cricket commentary domain, but at the same time are skeptical of its effect on ratings.
Pradeep Iyengar, National Buying Head, Carat Media, said, “To be honest, cricket is universal and there is no real need to introduce feeds in Bengali and Tamil or for that matter any other regional language. Nevertheless, this is an experiment and it just might work for the channel. But I don’t expect any major changes in ratings because of this.”
Echoing Iyengar’s comments, Sandeep Tarkas, CEO, Media Direction, added, “Cricket has never been about language commentary, and especially so in the metros. DD has Hindi commentary, but still people prefer the English feed. So, honestly my gut feel says that the regional commentary feed won’t make a lot of difference as far as ratings are concerned.”
“People are fairly knowledgeable about the game and thus, language commentary doesn’t make much difference to them as it has been rather poor till date. But, from an initiative point of view it’s a good idea and at least the channel is trying to do something different. It will be fantastic if the channel can get good language commentators and develop them,” he further said.
The line-up of the commentators starts with the aggressive right-hand batsman and a quickish off spinner Kirti Azad, former Indian fast bowler Vivek Razdan and right hand batsman Gursharan Singh. They will be the commentators in Hindi. Former cricketer Saradindu Mukherjee and Bengal First Class player Raju Mukherjee will be the commentators for the Bengali feed. Left hand batsman W V Raman, former cricketer Thirunavakarasu Kumaran ‘Kenny’ and well-known TV presenter Bosskey will be the commentators for the Tamil feed. Raman will be the commentator from the third Test onwards.
“Acquisition of the India-Lanka Test series right is an assertion of our commitment to provide exciting cricket to viewers in India. With the launch of simultaneous regional audio feed in Hindi, Tamil and Bengali, we will provide even greater enjoyment to the fans of the game, in the two remaining Test matches,” said Himanshu Mody, Business Head, Zee Sports.
He further said, “There is a great demand among viewers for commentary in regional languages. The localisation will greatly help in increasing the understanding and involvement for cricket and will help us in opening new markets.”