Thursday, January 06, 2011

BCCI and broadcast rights

Why? Why? Why?

Why grant license to just one TV channel in India? This has led to broadcast quality deteriorating so much that we are encountering the following:

1) Channels switch to advertisement even before the final ball of the over is dead. Why can't they let us savor the roar of the audience of a nice shot or a wicket going down?

2) Advertisement are overlayed on the live cricket feed. Sometimes these are shown as panels which takes about 20% of the screen.

3) Overlaying ads sometimes include audio at the expense of cricket commentary

4) The full advertisements that come in between overs, have higher volume than the actual cricket feed. So after every over, one is forced to either reach for the remote or learn to tolerate it

Here is what is required from them

1) Conduct auction and grant distribution rights to four different categories ( two in each for a total of 8 licenses

a) paid tv channels
b) free tv channels
c) paid online video feeds
d) free online video feeds

The paid tv channels will have to compete aginst free tv channels by providing more value added services. They could be less ads or better video quality ( say 1080 HD ) or their own chosen expert commentators etc. This ensures that we have a good reach and do not relegate cricket to only those who subscribe to pay channels. Also healthy competition can be a win-win for everyone ( as long as we don't allow cartels )

2) Ensure that the distribution rights are re-auctioned after every year rather than 5 years.

3) Lay down clear mandatory terms and conditions for the distribution license

a) At any given instant, broadcasters can show ad or cricket but not both. Overlay kills the experience of watching a cricket match

b) Ensure that the average volume of the cricket feed and the advertisements should remain the same

c) No ads till the ball is dead

4) Grant permission to the broadcasters to replace the commentary stream with their own commentator's audio feed. This can help them differentiate, if they chose to. Same goes for pre and post match briefings and analysis

Today the broadcasters care only about the bottom line and to be fair, rightfully so. So it is in the best interest of BCCI as care takers and promoters of cricket in India, to balance revenue with quality and public benefit

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