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Cricket’s absence is Olympics’ gain on Star Network

Due to overlapping dates with the Rio Olympics, Star India has decided to not telecast the third and fourth test matches of the England-Pakistan cricket series

BestMediaInfo Bureau | Mumbai | August 5, 2016


Star India, the official broadcaster of Rio Olympics and the ongoing England-Pakistan test series, has chosen the telecast of Olympics over the country’s most favourite game.

The third and fourth matches of the England-Pakistan test series will not be broadcast on any of Star India’s sports channels. It is because the test matches will overlap with the Olympics that begin from August 6 - 21.

The network hosts as many as eight sports channels but it announced it would dedicate all the airtime to the Olympics, in an attempt to telecast as many sports events as possible. Star India has been quite vocal about the promotion of non-cricketing sports, but the sudden absence of the cricket did not go well with the sports fans. Nonetheless, the cricket matches are being live-streamed on Hotstar, free of cost.

Sports lovers have taken to Twitter and other social networking sites to express their displeasure with the network. The England-Pakistan series included four test matches, five one-day international matches (ODIs) and one T20 match. Of these, the first two test matches were telecast on Star Sports cluster live from July 14-18 and July 22-26, respectively. The third test is being played from August 4-8; the last three days will overlap with the Olympics and so will the fourth test (August 11-15).

In an e-mail reply to our query, a Star India spokesperson said, “Star Sports is the official broadcaster of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and is leaving no stone unturned to provide the most comprehensive access to Indian sports fans. We are dedicating eight channels on a 24x7 basis telecasting the games that starts on August 6. Owing to our commitment to telecast the Rio 2016 Olympic games, the third and fourth Test Matches of England vs Pakistan will be only available Live on Hotstar, Star India’s digital platform.”

The cricket fans have taken to Twitter to vent their anger over the absence of the test matches. The sports network is replying to each tweet, explaining the reason behind their decision. Recently, Sony Pictures Networks India too faced the brunt of viewers when they suddenly shifted La Liga and FA Cup matches to its English Entertainment Channel to give space to IPL.

It is strange how the networks don’t bother to send out prior information about the changes in schedules. Star India has not even shifted the test matches to any other channel, though the Pro Kabaddi matches are simulcast on Star Gold and Star Gold HD. If it can be kabaddi, why not cricket, ask fans.

On the other hand, this is the first time the Olympic Games will be telecast on eight channels in India, with both Hindi and English commentaries.

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