Nearly a month ago, Star Sports re-launched their bouquet of sports channels with the promise of bringing a ‘sports revolution’ in India.
The revolution, however, does not seem to have gone down too well with football fans in the city. In the eye of the storm is Star Sports’ policy of broadcasting only cricket shows on three of their standard definition channels — Star Sports1, Star Sports2 and Star Sports3 — while football has been relegated to Star Sports4 and their two HD channels (Star HD1 and Star HD2).
Sample this: Tonight when Chelsea take on Crystal Palace at 8:30 pm in the English Premier League, the match will be broadcast live on Star Sports4 and Star Sports HD2. The La Liga encounter between Real Madrid and Osasuna, being played live at the same time slot, will be shown only on Star Sports HD 1 while the other three standard definition channels will be showing Sachiiin…Sachin (Star Sports1), Virat the Go Getter (Star Sports2) and Heroes - Moments & Memories in Hindi (Star Sports3).
Last Saturday too, Chelsea’s match against Stoke City was broadcast on Star Sports HD1 while Arsenal’s fans missed the league leaders’ clash with Hull City on December 5 over the same policy. This has left many football fans up in arms, with some enterprising fans even creating a parody account called @StarSportslndia on Twitter.
“I am a Chelsea fan. But I was left disappointed when I came to know that their match against Stoke City would be shown on Star Sports HD 1. To get any of the HD channels, I will have to shell out extra money. Why can’t they just show the EPL matches, which are live, on the other three channels instead of the repetitive Perfect Pujara, Outstanding Ojha and the Masterclass with Shane Warne?” lamented Narsimh Nayak, an engineering student.
Aniket More, a MCA student and an ardent Arsenal supporter, added: “I don’t understand why they show cricket full time on three channels when there is nothing live.
“Only a few months ago, they would show live matches on ESPN and Star Sports simultaneously. They now show the other live matches on their HD channels which are not subscribed by everyone.”
Real Madrid fan Abhijeet Barve said: “I find it really funny that Star Sports will show the same two programs on Pujara and Ojha for 13 hours but not find a slot for a live football match. Not everyone in India has HD to watch the games on Star Sports HD. Earlier they showed live sports instead of the same show. Also, they never forced us to use the HD service.”
While EPL fans are angry, the Serie A fans should be fuming too. The Italian league encounter between table toppers Juventus and third-placed Napoli on November 11 was not even shown on the HD stream. Star’s communications department did not respond to MiD DAY’s queries on the issue.