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Sony Six set to enthral audiences with MCL featuring cricketing legends

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MUMBAI: Come 28 January, 2016 and cricket fans will be in for a treat as they’ll get an opportunity to watch cricketing legends like Sourav Ganguly, Virender Sehwag, Wasim Akram and their ilk padding up to take centre stage once again on lush green fields.

As the Masters Cricket League (MCL) kicks-off, six franchises namely Libra Legends, Gemini Arabians, Sagittarius Soldiers, Virgo Super Kings, Capricorn Commanders and Leo Lions will tussle it out amongst each other, with the two best teams making it to the grand finale, which will be played on 3 February, 2016.

And gearing up for the live telecast of the maiden cricketing tourney from Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah is Sony Pictures Networks (SPN) India’s sports channel Sony Six. The first match will be aired live tomorrow at 7.30 pm.

While SPN India recently inked a JV with sportscaster ESPN and launched two new sports channels, the MCL will be aired on Sony Six and not on the new channels namely Sony ESPN and Sony ESPN HD.

“From a fan’s perspective, a primary destination for a particular event is both convenient and essential. In this particular case, we decided that it would be Sony Six. We may provide an occasional match on Sony ESPN based on requirements,” SPN sports cluster EVP and business head Prasana Krishnan tells Indiantelevision.com.  

World record holder Brian Lara, flamboyant opener Virender Sehwag and swinger Wasim Akram have already shared their excitement to be a part of the league. Apart from them, the Ashes-winning England captain Michael Vaughan, popular former South African captain Graeme Smith, former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly, recently retired Sri Lankan duo of Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, and former Pakistani all-rounder Azhar Mahmood are also amongst those who have signed up for the league. With participation from these names, the excitement around MCL is palpable.

“The Masters Champions League has an impressive line-up of international cricket legends and all time stars, who have a huge fan following. Fans are really looking forward to the opportunity of watching cricket legends who have retired, extending their careers in the MCL,” adds Krishnan.

The sportscaster is said to have signed the multi-year deal for close to $20 million. A media expert asserts, “This is a smart acquisition as I think it the MCL will continue to grow bigger with time. The tournament has big names associated with it and the matches will be competitive. If it starts well, cricket fans will be privy to something that they never expected and it has the potential to mark a new beginning.”

The brand interest so far has been commendable, and there have been a few last minute deals, which Sony Six is juggling with. “Cricket is the most popular sport in India, which is extremely valuable to advertisers. We already have two leading brands on board for the Masters Champions League and are expecting to add a few more through the course of the event,” informs Krishnan without divulging any names.

A senior sports media planner says, “The ad rates and number of sponsors on the first edition is not something that should be looked at. Any number is a good number; what is important at this stage is the nature of the tournament. Cricket always garners high eyeballs and the players are all brand ambassadors so if it picks up, it will be an exhibition.”

Throwing light on the reason behind Sony Six going after the MCL, Krishnan says, “With the MCL, our aim is to bring high quality packaged content that will appeal to our audiences in the Indian sub-continent. We are glad to present to our viewers, a chance to connect with their favourite international legends and look forward to some great cricketing action in this exciting T20 tournament.”

A cricket commentator, on condition of anonymity, adds, “I am excited to see the players I have grown up commentating on. I think the teams are a good mix of newly retired and previously retired players and hence it will be even-stevens. None of them have to prove anything to anyone but… ‘Once a warrior, always a warrior!’ Hence competition is ought to be there. I think it will be an entertaining voyage and if packaged properly, the MCL will be a great watch. I am sure there will be many trending hashtags all over as the tournament starts.”

Sharing his thoughts on the concept, Krishnan concludes, “The Masters Champions League is presenting retired legends coming together in a first of its kind T20 cricket league. Viewers will get a chance to see their heroes in action once again and relive their finest nostalgic moments on the field.”

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