MAX hopes to put on a show with entertaining pre, post-match segments at Champions

MUMBAI: There may be a cloud hanging over the upcoming ICC Champions Trophy but programming preparations at SET MAX, which is telecasting the event to C&S homes, has moved into high gear.


There was some good news for Sony Entertainment today in that the ICC backed down somewhat on the controversial agreement that is at the centre of a storm between the Indian players and administrators, and confirmed that the contract would be valid only for the Champions Trophy in Sri Lanka next month. But that that still hasn't got the players to sign on the dotted line so it's still in wait mode for all the parties concerned.


But the show must go on seems to be the line taken by Sony in this matter and that is exactly what Rajat Jain, executive vice president and business head, MAX is doing. Says Jain: "From the very beginning we have been saying that cricket is more than sport, it's spectacle. And our endeavour will be to present cricket in the most entertaining manner possible."


And what is all this in aid of. To spread the base to as wide an audience as possible. According to Jain, the fact that even the most nail-biting cricket matches deliver ratings of 15 or thereabouts indicates there is still a significant audience left untapped.


The focus now, for which TWI is doing the production, is the two hours prior and one hour of post match coverage that will be telecast live along with the matches on a daily basis, says Jain. Presenting these wraparound segments, which will give a total of 11 hours of live programming daily, are well know sports show host Charu Sharma and Ruby Bhatia, who is already doing a weekly show Cricket Masala on MAX. Jain says there will be more talent added for the World Cup in South Africa next March.


True to the channel's motif of being the place where movies and cricket come together, there will be loads of "filmi masala" to keep those interested as well as disinterested in cricket tuned in. Fun moments on the field, with film personalities roped into the studio as well as on the field, are what are planned.


And leveraging the movie Lagaan, that had a game of cricket as its central theme, MAX will be introducing a Lagaan character or two into the proceedings both on ground and on air. The Sony in house team is also in the process of creating an animated character that would be used as a kind of cricket mascot and would scamper across the screen with the appropriate expressions during instances like runouts, clean bowled, sixes, fours and the like.


The channel will also be introducing contests through innovative prediction games using sms/ mailing / email with prizes to be won, says Jain.


And even if all these activities fail to quite get the disinterested in, there will of course remain the die-hard cricket fan. And that is quite a significant population in itself.


See related story: MAX swears by interstitials to get across cricket message


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