Essel Group has announced that they would be broadcasting the first 30 minutes of the Indian Cricket League (ICL) matches on all Zee channels.
They are however excluding two of their movie channels (Zee Cinema and Zee Studio) from this plan.
This means that these domestic cricket matches would get telecasted on channels which are watchable in 125 countries around the world.
These matches were originally planned only for their Zee Sports.
Essel Group senior vice president Ashish Kaul said in a statement: “We have decided to put domestic cricket on a bigger platform and plan to make it available to a much wider audience. Zee Network is available in 125 countries and has a subscriber base of over 550 million. We believe this is a landmark decision for domestic cricket.”
In a last ditch effort to attract television advertisers to the India Cricket League, the Subash Chandra-promoted breakaway Twenty20 cricket series, the Zee management has decided to simulcast the first 30 minutes of all the ICL matches live across its 25 channels within India and seven international feeds.
ICL, which is primarily a television property for the Zee group, kicks off on November 30 and is yet to find advertisers.
ICL was announced in April this year as an alternative cricket league to promote talent. However, with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announcing its own Twenty20 league, the India Premiere League (IPL), to be played in April next year, advertisers have adopted a wait-and-watch policy before committing money on either of the leagues.
Terming it as a first-of-a-kind move to enable ICL matches to be viewed in over 125 countries, Ashish Kaul, executive vice-president, Essel Group said: “It has never been done before. The first 30-minutes of two matches, that would be played each day from November 30 to December 16, will be available live on all our network channels so that they can be sampled by almost everyone.”
Within the country, the Zee network of 25 channels has a reach of about 100 million cable and satellite and direct-to-home subscribers. Outside India, the Zee bouquet of channels, through seven feeds, reaches Europe, North America, Africa, Australia among other countries.
As a result of this decision, the entire Zee network of 25 channels will have to reschedule their programmes for 30 minutes, once at 2 pm and next at 6 pm to accommodate the league matches.
Earlier, Zee had told advertisers that the matches will be telecast only on Zee Sports and gave no surety whether they would also be shown on Ten Sports – the channel in which Zee is an equal partners.
Advertisers have been lukewarm to this offer as Zee Sports has a very limited distribution in homes (only 20% of the cable homes) unlike Ten Sports which is available in 70% of the cable homes.
According to the format, two Twenty20 matches will be played between six teams each day. These teams feature international cricket stars including Brian Lara, Chris Cairns, Marvan Atapattu and a host of domestic cricket players.