'Super Selector' goes pay as ESS firms up plans for World Cup

MUMBAI: Despite vain attempts at hatching an alliance with national broadcaster Doordarshan, ESPN Star Sports is pushing ahead with its attempts at innovating around World Cup cricket.

The channels' game show 'Super Selector' has just gotten bigger and better. It has also gone pay. The special daily programme that runs from 23 January to 22 March will incorporate an online game and an SMS game. The channel has roped in Domino's Pizza, BPCL, Sify and to facilitate registration.

A total of Rs 70,00,000 are to be given away as cash prizes in this special edition of the game.

An official release informs that Super Selector South Africa 2003 is essentially four games in one. While selectors will pick and play just one team throughout the tournament, ESS will award daily prizes for the highest scoring Super Selector team of the day), at the end of stage one (for the highest scoring Super Selector team of the first round) and there will be two prizes awarded at the end of the competition (for the highest scoring team during the second stage, and the highest scoring team for the entire competition). 

Selectors can register any number of teams. To register for the online game, participants have to purchase a Personal Identification Number (PIN) which will cost Rs 100. This can be done from either a SIFY i-way by paying cash, from by paying online or through redeeming BPCL 'Petromiles' at select outlets. Also through a deal with Domino's, a PIN comes free with every Super Selector pizza purchased during the period. The channel views this move as being a stake for higher earnings. 

The rules are straightforward. Each team selected must consist of six batsmen, one wicketkeeper and four bowlers. A diehard optimist can even select the Indian team and so there is no restriction on nationality. Each selector can make as many as 40 substitutions to last the entire duration of the game. 

At the end of the final match, the top overall winner stands to win the Grand Prize of Rs. 20,00,000 plus a trip to a cricket match (either Australia Tour of West Indies or SA/India/Bangladesh tri-series). The second winner stands to add Rs. 2,00,000 to his bank balance and so on. For the final, the top five scorers will stand to win Rs. 1,00,000 each. For the two Semi-Finals, the top five scorers will stand to win Rs 30,000 each and so on. 

Now for the SMS game. Super Selector South Africa 2003 SMS is essentially a simpler, daily version of the Super Selector Mini game that has been running for the past three months. One can register as a user by simply SMS-ing the word SS to 3232 (participants will only need to do this once throughout the entire contest period).

Instead of picking the best batsman, bowler and wicketkeeper of the month, participants only need to pick the highest scoring Super Selector 'player of the day' every playing day of the contest. Participants can submit as many entries as they like throughout the day. The competition will be open from 6 am to10 pm on every match day. For all 33-match days, the top five who correctly predict the 'Player Of The Day' stand to win Levi Strauss merchandise hampers worth Rs. 2,000 each daily. At the end of the tournament one winner from the pool of SMS game contestants gets a cash prize of Rs. 50,000.

The channel kicked off cricket programming by launching 'India Glorious' from 1 January. This is a feel good series of 24 ODIs on Star Sports at 8 pm which saw India emerge victors at the end of the day. The series comes to an end on 24 January. 25 January sees a replacement in the form of Mission South Africa which will be more analytical and insightful in nature. The 90 minute show concludes on 7 February. The 12 ODIs will see mixed results for India. The commentary team including Ravi Shastri, Sunil Gavaskar, Navjot Sidhu will examine the gains that India made as well as lessons that Saurav, Sachin and the gang can take with them to South Africa. This is all aimed at enhancing the enjoyment factor for the viewer.

Viewers can also feast on innovative one-minute vignettes including Teams of Passion, Colours of South Africa. The aim of the channel is to get cricket fans clued in to the goings on. The first one gives viewers a glimpse of important members of one team. The second one offers tips for cricket crazy fans visiting safari land. 

The channel purports to have a half hour preview and one-hour review show for each match. Of course channel mascot Apple Singh will pop up now and again. 

On the merchandising front, the channel has collaborated with, ironically enough, Sony Music to release 'Chalo India' music CD and cassette last week. This comprises of songs from Bollywood hits like 'Lagaan', 'Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani' singing praises of the motherland. The channel expects to sell 30,000 copies by the end of the month. It has already climbed to the top of the charts of Kolkata's Music World, claims the channel.

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