Ever since Cricket turned to an ‘˜EPL-risque fanfare in India, it paved way for other sports to follow the same model. The likes of Badminton, Golf, Boxing and Hockey inundated itself into pools of money and bringing in talent from worldwide to become a grand spectacle.
Ever since Cricket turned to an ‘EPL-equé’ fanfare in India, it paved way for other sports to follow the same model. The likes of Badminton, Golf, Boxing and Hockey inundated itself into pools of money and bringing in talent from worldwide to become a grand spectacle. Even though the Indian Premier League sits atop of ‘sports leagues’ in India, here’s presenting the Hockey India League (HIL) who has 22 players running around a ball with sticks in their hands. Launched in 2013, by Hockey India, the HIL took immediately.
Setting up in cities that are ‘hockey borne’, the Hockey India League kicked off amongst media frenzies, politicians and Bollywood stars. Furthermore, just as the ICC sanctioned an ‘auction month’ for the IPL, same way, The International Hockey Federation (FIH) certified the event and also provided a 30-day window at the beginning of a year so that all top players can participate.
The first season of the HIL saw Ranchi Rhinos become champions after defeating Delhi Waveriders 2–1 in the final. Even though it tasted success in the first year, the second season promised alot (see the ads on television) but has it stepped up the plate? India’s largest leading sports channel, STAR India announced a mass investment in excess of Rs. 1500 crore in hockey over the next eight years in order to promote the game. Not that it is appealing but investing an amount onto a sport that is still to lure crowds to stadiums. The risk taken by Star is commendable but will it appeal?
Here is what Star is been upto this year:
• Star Sports has hired International Management Group (IMG) to produce the second edition of HIL. Israel-based specialised sports agency Prometheus has been entrusted with the responsibility of developing cutting edge graphics suitable for hockey broadcast.
• The broadcaster will use as many as 20 cameras for the very first time in the history of the sport for each and every match during the league. Star Sports will be treating HIL at par with international cricket.
• The league will be showcased not only in English on Star Sports 1 and Star Sports HD1 but will also be showcased in Hindi on Star Sports 3.
• Starsports.com will stream all matches live for hockey loving fans across the world. There will be pre- and post-match shows as well.
This sounds interesting but why has HIL failed to lure in the ratings amongst the sports lovers? The schedule of HIL is not a problem (matches are scheduled everday) but with Football a major craze amongst the Indians (second after Cricket), how can one find time to watch a hockey game. On weekends, or even weekdays, if a football match which is has Manchester United clashing with Chelsea or Real Madrid taking on Barcelona, how can one tune to into watch a Mumbai Magicians versus Delhi Waveriders! Secondly, HIL has failed to promote its teams on a larger stage and so its players – the likes of Jamie Dwyer have not attracted media galloping.
Also, if Star does fail to broadcast its EPL games that are in line with the HIL ones, expect a backlash from fans.
And if they (Star) still wish to broadcast the India’s 2013 heroics, with the likes of Perfect Pujara and Outstanding Ojha also around, well you got to feel sorry for the channel itself.
So, this may be just the beginning of the HIL journey this year but with a poor start, how can one expect to finish it on a stronger note? The Indian Hockey team – anyone.