View Full Version : Carving a niche in the idiocy market - latest article from Cricinfo

July 23, 2004, 10:05 AM
This guys seems pretty upset...
Maybe he will understand (in a vague way) why we feel so bad when the indian commies bash our cricket team. It all about not being part of the intended market.

Carving a niche in the idiocy market

Analysis by Dileep Premachandran
<a href=http://usa.cricinfo.com/db/ARCHIVE/CRICKET_NEWS/2004/JUL/004966_ASIA2004_23JUL2004.html>cricinfo</a>

July 23, 2004

There was a time when the EPSN-Star Sports brand shone like a beacon when it came to cricket telecasting, combing the technical excellence of Channel 9, the pizzazz of Sky Sports and the insights offered by Test Match Special, without the stiff upper lip. Harsha Bhogle, Sunil Gavaskar, Ravi Shastri and friends – with their crisp analysis and touches of humour – were worlds removed from the shamateurism epitomised by Doordarshan's "experts".

Then, the World Cup in South Africa happened, with Sony TV winning the telecast rights. Since then, wave after wave of idiocy has washed over the viewers, starting with Mandira Bedi, that queen of cricket kitsch. Sadly, ESPN-Star, desperate to carve out a niche in the idiot segment, have now started to outdo Sony, bringing in pitch nurses, B-Grade talk-show hosts and ex-players whose sole aim appears to be to break the record for the most inane clichés spouted in a minute.

The argument for is ostensibly that this sort of gimmickry will bring in the less devoted viewer, appeal to those who would otherwise be watching a trashy soap or two. The hard-core constituency, those who actually know their fine leg and silly points, clearly don't matter. They can be taken for a ride, and subjected to any old rubbish in the name of that all-powerful excuse, "entertainment".

I have nothing against good-looking yet vacuous people, but the fact is, there are plenty of other channels where their presence might cause the serious viewer less pain. Toilet humour, tawdry sexual innuendo and plain pathetic jokes might be par for the course in American Pie, but aren't quite cricket.

There's also the small matter of sexism. Mid-innings contests based on viewer votes, and airhead comments suggest that women are at the cricket only to lend some colour. As Catherine Hanley wrote in a brilliant column on Wisden.com a few years ago, cheap asides about women in bikinis in the crowd, and general lewdness, have no place when it comes to the telecast of a mainstream sport.

Some of the best writers on sport – Tanya Aldred on cricket and Amy Lawrence on football come to mind immediately – don't always get the respect they deserve because some thickos assume that they don't know as much as the men. And for that stereotype, you can blame your TV bosses who scout around for Mandira clones to provide mid-match entertainment.

No one has any objection to a pretty face on screen, as long as said pretty face has something to offer other than a simpering pose and a quivering lip. Gabby Yorath and Claire Tomlinson on British TV must have their fair share of male admirers, but that also has much to do with the fact that they have a clue.

Even the Godfathers of sports TV glitz, the Americans, know where to draw the line. You might have a Janet Jackson exposing a body part or two during a SuperBowl half-time show, but don't expect to see her up in the commentary booth discussing Peyton Manning's quarterback rating with Terry Bradshaw and Howie Long. There's a place for expert analysis, and a place for eye-candy, and never the twain should meet.

And while we're at it, could we please hand out some severance cheques to "commentators" who do little more than state the blindingly obvious, while revealing that language isn't quite their strongest suit. Simply saying, "It's all happening here" doesn't a Bill Lawry or Richie Benaud make.

The bottom line clearly matters to ESPN-Star, especially since they're up against competition from the likes of Sony. But there has to be a thin red line somewhere. For the moment, ESPN-Star have stumbled across that, and it doesn't make for pretty viewing.

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