WSN to do production for MAX 'Extraaa Innings'

MUMBAI: Sony has appointed World Sport Nimbus (WSN) to handle production on Extraaa Innings - the two-hour pre-match and one-hour post-match programming that MAX has developed for the upcoming cricket World Cup in South Africa.

Extraaa Innings is a segment MAX introduced in September 2002 during the ICC Champions Trophy to broadbase viewership and increase the entertainment element around the cricket. And it's entertainment with a capital "E" that WSN has been mandated to produce to showcase the 54-day "festival of cricket" that kicks off in South Africa on 8 February.

The Sony team will closely supervise the entire production work, Peter Dempsey, of Topline Sports Vision - a division of Closeview Pte, which is overseeing Sony's sports production, told yesterday. Dempsey was speaking on the sidelines of a media briefing in Mumbai announcing Sony's plans for the World Cup.

According to Dempsey, the brief given to WSN is to ensure that the cricket on show is glitzier, slicker, more palatable and more watchable during this World Cup. 

"The Australians haven't attempted it, neither have the English. It's a forward-thinking, ambitious enterprise," says Dempsey of the attempt.

A WSN company spokeserson when contacted claimed that WSN put its best foot forward, both qualitatively and financially, when pitching for the MAX business. But the official refused to give any financial details. 

CHARU'S ANGELS: Presenter Charu Sharma and his trio of 'Extraaa Innings' co-presenters Mandira, Sandhya and Maria strike a pose.

"WSN has arguably the best cricket production team in the world, unparalleled experience in various parts of the world, a full fledged and running operation in South Africa through its wholly owned subsidiary World Sport Nimbus (SA) Pty Ltd, excellent knowledge of what makes the Indian viewer tick and the ability to mesh entertainment with cricket: all factors that it would like to believe are important to broadcasters when awarding large scale production contracts for the Indian region," the spokesperson adds.

Extraaa Innings programming: 

The scenic Table Mountain in Cape Town

Elaborating on what was involved in, Dempsey said the mammoth exercise will involve 15-20 cameras, and three placement screens within the stadium. There will be three to four camera crews travelling across South Africa. The entire activity will be coordinated from a studio in Cape Town, that has the scenic Table Mountain backdrop. The various cities (venues) such as Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, Centurion, Port Elizabeth, Bloemfontein, East London, Potchefstroom, Kimberley, Paarl, Benoni, Pietermaritzburg, Bulawayo, Harare will be showcased.

Dempsey states that MAX has finalised the programming flow for Extraaa Innings component. The emphasis will be on providing personality-based information on cricketers; likes and dislikes; sight-seeing; cuisine; shopping; tarot-reading and celebrities. The programming team will ensure that several aspects of the lifestyles of Indian cricket team members will also be showcased on India on Tour . This is to be a daily feature, irrespective of whether India matches are scheduled or not.

Pre-match two-hour duration: During the first hour of the pre-match programming, the focus will be on lighter aspects and entertainment, essentially for the uninitiatied viewer. In the second hour, as the show leads in towards match time, the overall pitch is directed at the purists and several cricket-related statistics, analyses and predictions will be made. Wisden will provide the statistics and analysis, Dempsey reveals.

Post match one-hour duration: If the pre-match segment goes from light to heavy across the two hours, the post-match show does the exact opposite. The first 30-minute segment will comprise serious post-match analysis and the like. The second segment will include more of entertainment and lighter tidbits.

Queried as to whether Sony had been dissatisfied with the work done by TWI, the television arm of IMG, which won the production contract for the Champions, Dempsey replied in the negative. It was more an issue of scale, Dempsey said. According to him, while TWI had done a satisfactory job in Sri Lanka, he believed the WSN team had the greater expertise to handle the logistics involved in covering the World Cup (54 days of cricket across three countries).

In the case of national broadcaster Doordarshan, however, it will be done in-house. DD has slotted a one-hour pre-match segment that will be handled out of its own studios. All DD will be using is the WSN world feed for match telecast.

Earlier this year, Doordarshan (DD) had however, awarded the television production contract for cricket matches played in India to WSN wherein the state-owned broad-caster has to pay Rs 284.6 million for cricket-related programming production between 21 February, 2002, to October 2004. WSN will have to arrange for production of 81 days of cricket.

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