Sony aimed at making IPL 'baap' of entertainment

IPL has always attracted adverse comments from pure sports enthusiasts for its entertainment quotient and its official broadcaster Sony wanted it to be the “biggest blockbuster event” on TV.

In its presentation before the IPL governing council in November 2007, while competing for broadcasting rights, the Sony team said that they “want to make IPL the ‘baap’ of entertainment and ‘maa’ of cricket”.

By this, the broadcaster meant they wanted to make the event the ultimate sporting extravaganza.

According to the minutes of the meeting, Sony’s emphasis was that IPL should be “shown as an entertainment and not against any sport.” Sony warned that IPL has the power to “kill any sport and any form of cricket,” the minutes said.

Separate anthems for teams and separate team colour were other suggestions from them who also wanted to pitch franchise fans against each other. “Divide the country into various factions to get local regional support,” they said.

It suggested that one of the keys for success would be to move beyond male viewers and take steps to “co-opt kid/family” into viewing matches.

While Sony did not want to “acquire a franchise as it may make them biased,” one of its competitors Nimbus said broadcaster might be accorded preferential option to acquire a team.
ESPN-Star Sports (ESS) was another broadcaster in the ring for the rights but Sony, which later tied up with World Sports Group (WSG), won the battle.

After the presentations, the IPL governing council members deliberated on the issue with then BCCI treasurer N Srinivasan pointing out that the broadcaster should enhance the product and not only be valued on money.

Then IPL commissioner Lalit Modi said IPL is a new product and it was a “do or die situation” for them and the reach of the broadcaster was "very important".

BCCI member Arun Jaitley, now finance minister, said it should be ensured that the criterion set for selecting broadcasters should not be stringent else many bidders will not fit the bill and the “value of the bid can/will come down.”

The minutes quoted Jaitley as saying, “Hence we need to be flexible and marketing procedures should be predetermined.”

The award of media rights to WSG-Sony later ended in a controversy with Enforcement Directorate questioning the BCCI decision to guarantee payment of Rs 425 crore to WSG in case Sony refused to pay the agreed facilitation fee.

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