Football production in India rejuvenated with ISL: Anilava Chatterjee

MUMBAI: Sports is a lucrative genre for broadcasters as advertisers fritter huge sums of money for both on-ground and on-air sponsorships. However, the bang for their buck is received only when the camera lens captures their brand. Moreover, viewers too expect an exquisite exhibition of imagery on their television screen for sporting events. All this and more is tirelessly taken care of by the sports production unit deployed on the field.


At a time when ‘sports’ in India is synonymous with ‘cricket’ as ‘photocopy’ is to ‘Xerox,’ Kolkata based Greymind Communications aspires to be the lenses covering all the football matches in the Indian sub-continent as well as in South East Asia.


Greymind Communications founded by Anilava Chatterjee and Aniruddha Goharoy kicked off its journey in 2006 by producing the live telecast of Sahara Kolkata Premier League. The matches were shown on the Bengali news channel 24 Ghanta for two consecutive years (2006 and 2007). Greymind also produced 33 live matches of Calcutta Football League (CFL) for Star Network and matches were shown on Jalsa Movies this year. Last year, the company produced 65 live matches for same network in CFL and IFA Shield.


Speaking exclusively to, Chatterjee asserts, “We have traveled a long distance since our inception and there are miles to go as we have high aspirations. When we started our journey in 2006, the scenario was different in India. Now it’s getting better everyday, which is a huge encouragement for us. Last year we covered CFL for Star India and I must say Star has raised the bar with their quality conscious quotient. The experience with CFL 2014 – 15 was a morale booster for us. The matches had thrill and the crowd liked it. We managed to get highest ever television ratings for the sport.”


Having their share of covering big-ticket matches of international magnitude, Greymind also shot the Argentina VS Venezuela match featuring Lionel Messi in Salt Lake Stadium Kolkata. “The stadium had more than one lakh spectators screaming Messi’s name and there were billions across the globe sitting in front of television screens to see Messi dribbling and dodging. We covered the Argentina VS Venezuela match in 2011 in HD and it was indeed a great experience. We deployed 16 cameras with one fixed on Messi. The match was going to be covered worldwide and there was no room for a glitch. I am happy to say that we successfully covered the match,” Chaterjee adds.


While 16 cameras in a football match is not that big a figure as the UEFA Champions League, English Premier League and other important football tournament matches are covered by as many as 32 - 40 HD cameras with a camera fixed on each player. On the other hand, a few of them focus on the crowd, managers, staffs and officials. In that sense, there is a lot yet to be done in India. Greymind produced I League 2014-15 with 11 cameras whereas IMG covered Indian Super League (ISL) with 17 cameras.


Speaking on the difference in production quality, Chatterjee says, “The quality is directly proportional to the production investment, which is gradually increasing with time in India. This year I League’s production was better than previous year’s. Also, besides production investment, there are a few relevant factors too, on which the quality depends. For example, a match in Salt Lake stadium with lesser crowd will look bad on screen no matter what. So a Kolkata Derby with the same number of cameras in the same stadium looks way better than any other match because of the house full stadiums. In Europe or America. the stands are always full.”


Besides camera there are other technical aspects too which makes football look the way it does on screen feels Chatterjee sharing his experience he asserts, “I went to Brazil to see the world cup matches both how teams are playing as well as how it is produced, they use an analytical software called Deltatray which gives live analysis of how much a player ran and other individual statistics the cost of that software is more than the entire production cost in India.”


In India production cost for an I League, CFL or an international match is around Rs 7 lakhs for Standard Definition (SD) coverage and can go up to Rs 10 lakhs for High Definition (HD) coverage. IMG produced ISL’s production cost goes as high up as Rs 30 lakh per match.


“ISL has rejuvenated the entire football fraternity and I expect it to grow bigger and better with time. The tournament garnered huge viewership on television and the stadiums were also houseful. If football becomes big in India, production standards will also go up,” says Chatterjee.


Stepping up on their game, Greymind’s will be producing India’s World Cup qualifiers (four matches) on behalf of IMG this year. The first match is scheduled to be played against Oman on 11 June, 2015 in Bengaluru.


“This would be a huge challenge for us and we are really looking forward to this event. Getting to cover on behalf of IMG is a big achievement for us and it’s also an opportunity to make a mark on the international market. It will be a high definition coverage and will be aired on Sony Six,” informs Chatterjee.


When queried as to whether there was a gap in skill, which effects the execution, Chatterjee says, “I don’t think there is a huge difference in skill. It’s the investment that’s different. We deploy around 70 skilled technicians who have the potential to work on numerous systems and cameras. It’s the basic that matters. Technicians equipped with strong basic will be able to work on any system.”


Quality TV production in Indian Super League has already created a major impact on Indian football and the same stands true for I League and West Bengal State League (aka Sahara Kolkata Premier League). Last year, TVR for Kolkata Derby, which was produced for Star Sports and aired on Jalsa Movies, was higher than World Cup Football final in this market. Efforts are made to enhance the standard of TV production through innovations and expertise. This year, Greymind used super slow motion camera and drone camera to add more values in I League matches.


Looking ahead, the company aspires to emerge as a strong player in South East Asian market and is also looking to strengthen its digital production by launching a website and promote shows like Extra Time.


“Our goal is to make the sports competitive, widely watched, media and sponsor friendly through high quality TV production and build up stars who would be the iconic faces for football in India. Our primary target is to produce quality live football shows in South Asia. We firmly believe that quality and standard of football largely depends on quality of TV production. So the South Asian countries, who are not doing well in terms of FIFA ranking and domestic league, can be given best quality TV production,” Chatterjee concludes.


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