MAX swears by interstitials to get across cricket message

MUMBAI: SET MAX is getting into the groove as far as pushing the World Cup Network is concerned. And while it has announced two weekly celebrity-hosted cricket shows that will launch mid-August, it is "short format programming" that will be the key message driver.

"Frequency of exposure is our aim," says Rajat Jain, executive V-P, SET MAX. And what will provide that according to him, are interstitials (short format shows) differentiated across different categories. About 150 of these have been created that are aimed at "building the interest in cricket and building the association with MAX," says Jain. 

And what about recently signed brand ambassador Kapil Dev. While he features prominently in the interstitials, the famous all-rounder and recently voted Wisden Indian Cricketer of the Century will make his television debut for the network with the infotainment programme Kapil Dil Se. The half hour, weekly series to be launched mid-August and airing Fridays will provide viewers with interesting, informative nuggets on the life of cricket stars - as perceived by their fans, their friends, neighbours and local residents, an official company communiqu says. 

The first segment is called Gullies of Fame and tracks Kapil Dev on location in neighbourhoods where the cricketers began their careers. The show will include sections for viewer participation including contest, write-ins etc. where viewers can contribute special stories that could feature on the show.

Mantra for Success is an interview section where Kapil will ask a host of celebrities about their personal mantras for success - whether it be Aamir Khan, Amitabh Bachchan or Sachin Tendulkar (how they propose to get Sachin when he has been contracted to ESPN Star Sports as brand ambassador remains a mystery though). The segment will also offer snapshots of the milestones of the celebrity and will include an informal and real-to-life chat show.

The last section is a wrap-up titled Kapil on Kricket Karma which draws

"Spice Girl" Ruby Bhatia

parallels with the lives of celebrities and how that can translate into success in the game of cricket. 

Also launching around the same time is Cricket Masala - a programme that will be hosted by Ruby Bhatia and will air Sundays. Cricket Masala, a weekly half-hour show will highlight the lighter side of cricket and aims to draw in the entire family. With a mix of the light and serious - Cricket Masala will provide information on the game, its players and even its fans.

One property that came as part of the package that Sony bought when it secured the ICC cricket rights is the Under 19 World Cup. MAX will offer viewers a first glimpse of what is in store on 19, 20 & 21 August, 9 am onwards when it telecasts highlights from the tournament held earlier this year in New Zealand. Competitors from 16 participating were in the fray for the trophy, which saw Australia take the cup. 

Building interest youth cricket will probably be the toughest task ahead for Team MAX.

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