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Cricket will be the sole focus even in the IPL: STAR India

STAR chief Uday Shankar was bullish after winning the global media rights of the IPL.

BCCI IPL
BCCI auctioned the media rights of the IPL on Monday. (Photo by Aniruddha Chowhdury/Mint via Getty Images)

STAR India’s top boss Uday Shankar has vowed to keep the spotlight only on cricket during their five-year global media rights deal with the BCCI for the cash rich IPL. The outgoing Sony pictures brought a new hemisphere to T20 cricket when they introduced the concept of cheer leaders in the inaugural season of the IPL in 2008.

But the dancing girls in the studios or at the ground won’t be highlighted too much during STAR’s tenure. They have always strictly focused on the cricket and after winning the media rights for a whopping amount of 16,347.5 crores today, Uday Shankar promised to keep the focus away from anything other than cricket.

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“You have seen on STAR Sports (that) our focus is strictly on the sport. We believe that the spotlight should be on the sport and we will continue to do that… I am not commenting on what anybody else does,” Shankar told Hindustan Times after leading his company’s successful bid.

STAR wanted to redefine their cricket package

Shankar explained the reason behind the gigantic bid. STAR currently has the broadcast, internet and mobile rights for Indian cricket but the contract will expire in March 2018, which is less than six months away. The bid was done keeping this contract expiration in mind.

“Our BCCI rights get over in less than six months and the Indian team, over the next few years, is going to be traveling abroad so much, and we don’t have the England and Australian board rights. With IPL, we have a breather,” said Shankar.

STAR bided fiercely and won by a narrow margin of Rs 500 crores, yes that amount stands narrow when one is talking in the bracket of 16,347.5 crores. Shankar was happy that they could bid precisely to win the auction.

“If it (our figures) were slightly less, we would not have got the rights. We won by a really narrow margin of 2-3 per cent, so we were very close (in predicting the right value of IPL),” the STAR chief said.

Controversies don’t affect STAR

The IPL has been plagued by controversies in the past but that did not deter STAR from bidding aggressively. With the BCCI also under the scanner for apparent misdoings, Shankar explained that the IPL is sort of a perpetual entity.

“Whatever controversies might have been, they have been there all the time, but the IPL has gone on to become bigger and bigger. It is for the news media, we are a sports broadcaster.”

With the returning Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals, the 11th edition of the IPL will be a big one. With the media rights sold, the focus will now shift to the IPL auctions which will take place early next year.

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