Critics Corner.

Opinions. And LOTS of them.

The degeneration of ESPN-Star:

Posted by Sports Snob on December 20, 2006


Before the advent of these infinite news channels, ESPNStar came up with the concept of an hour of sports news, half an hour in English called Sportsline on Star Sports followed by an identical version in Hindi on ESPN. The timings were also pretty conducive to my viewing, 7:30 to 8:30, ideal for post dinner watching at IITM. Sportsline was impressively anchored by one of the few admirable Australians, Jason Dasey and despite the obvious and necessary bias for cricket, did cover the other sports also adequately. Sportsline and Jason Dasey were both pretty good hits I think. ( why else would ESPNStar come up with ads having aam junta recognise Jason Dasey on the roads? )

While this was going smoothly, for some inexplicable reason the languages were reversed. Sportsline became the Hindi version and Sportscenter became the English one. As a result, to me 7:30 to 8 now became the time to watch some comedy on Star World as the English version was the more impressive one. Slowly and sadly, both Jason Dasey and Sporsline got phased away to be replaced by the crap that is shown now.

Lousy Shows

Now-a-days, there is only Sportscenter, two versions, one tailor made for India, in Hindi and the other the Asian edition in English. The Hindi version is abysmal, the equivalent of a sporting Slimes of India. Take yesterday’s example. Instead of showing the highlights of the wickets first up, what they showed was an “exclusive” Indian team celebration in the dressing room. And these were the same guys who criticised the Indian team even during the victory against the Rest of SA team, claiming that Rest of SA was a third string team. There is unnecessary harping on the part that Ganguly played in the match. Agreed it was important, but Zaheer’s and Laxman’s performances were also equally important. There seems to be a lack of balance in their reporting, just the extremes and a lot of sensationalisation as well. One of the anchors, Anand Narasimhan is atleast ok, the other guy just plain sucks. Yesterday he said the word “aitihasic” atleast 5-6 times before the first break, amateurish to say the least. Not something that I expected from ESPNStar.


This is symptomatic of the decline in the quality of our premier Sports broadcaster. Till they won the ICC rights, they had the cricket telecast rights of only the white countries ( England, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand ) and the minnows (Bangladesh and Zimbabwe), still a majority but one that was slowly but surely being eroded by Ten Sports. They have lost the Champions League and hence have to act as if the English Premier League is the only league in the world. Last season the Champions League coverage was so so English centric and they did not even show the Spanish League live. I am sure it is only the loss of the CL rights that makes them telecast the Spanish League live this season. They have even lost the more fun WWE for the loser like TNA.

Last week, three test matches were being shown live. But unless you saw them live, there was no chance you could see glimpses of the matches outside of Sportscenter. The NZ-SL match highlights was just before the next day’s play at 2:30 am and the Ashes highlights was at 11:30 pm, too late in my opinion. What did they show from 9 to 11:30 pm? Among others, there was Ashes 2005, the crappy cricket comedy show and some classic boxing. Totally viewer unfriendly. There was also this crazy idea of showing our rape in the ODIs in two languages, must have been an MBA like me who came up with this idea to increase TRPs. As a result, some mid-week EPL matches were not shown live.

Despite all this, they still are our best sports channels, which does say a lot about the other sports channels.


(Read the author’s blog at

(Kesavan is an alumnus of IIT Madras and an MBA from IIM Bangalore. He is a top-notch quizzer and is currently working with a leading bank (I-bank) in Bangalore)


12 Responses to “The degeneration of ESPN-Star:”

  1. […] Sports Snob rues the decline in quality of India’s premier sports broadcaster, ESPN-Star Sports. He also adds that sad fact is that ESPN-Star is still the best of the lot, which says volumes about how pathetic the rest of them are. […]

  2. Prateek said

    If ESPN & Star split and a couple more strong competitors enter the fray it would be better for all of us.

  3. Ravi said

    absolutely agree on everything… the only factor that keeps ESPNStar’s Indian cricket coverage going is the presence of Harsha Bhogle and co. i am tired of watching reruns of the 2005 Ashes, the Headingley Adelaide wins and endless highlites of ‘great innings’ played by our batsmen! the sports news broadcast is synonymous with the tabloid journalism that has penetrated our news channels

  4. @ Prateek: ESPN Star combined was based on soaring cricket rights prices and this has not changed one bit. If anything, it has increased further. So, competition is the need of the hour. I would like to see some strong competition, with good sports commentators enter the Indian market.

    @Ravi: Agreer on the tabloid journalism bit.
    Harsha Bhogle is the saving grace for the combine. The blessing for ESPN star is that the others have such lousy commentators such as Charu Sharma and Srikkanth (with his Hindi) and Jimmy- I can’t put together a complete sentence- Amarnath.

  5. Lucas said

    There’s more of consolidation that’s happening right now among the sports channels…ZEE sports is taking over TEN sports and SetMax is exiting sports. That makes it just 2 major sports channel-combines now. It’s not easy to enter this market unless you have got telecasting rights for some major cricketing tournaments, which are mostly shared between ESPN-STAR and ZEE-Ten Sports. So, can’t expect any new sports channels because it’s cricket content that makes or breaks sports channels in India.

  6. @ Lucas: Strong agreer. And this is sickening. There is very much a marginalization of every other sport by the networks. I watched the NatWest series victory today, again!!

  7. Ravi said

    and the headingley and adelaide wins, again and again!!

  8. Its got to appeal to the masses, so I guess we cant be choosy. If we want newer programming then i guess we should also be willing to pay

  9. Sanjay said

    A friend of mine knows Jason Dasey and says that he’s very touched by this and other blogs about how people think the decline of ESPN STAR’s news shows coincided with his departure. I wonder what he’s up to now?

  10. clash said

    Is there any way to access a channel which shows the Arsenal match tonight in India? I watch TV with a TV tuner card in my systems. IS there any software available to show all the channles skipped by the cable operator?

    Please mail me…..

  11. Redevil1480 said

    haha… i cant believe that people are cribbing about the ESPN Star coverage… Especially that IIT fella… man if ur such a sports freak why the hell did u do a degree… shld have stayed at home and watched all matches possible or taken up a job at Espnstar… ur talking about WWE? r u still 12 yrs old my frnd… or some USA Wannabe… The only thing i agree with u is the Sportscenter coverage thats all.

    But like every kid does get this once in a while>>> GROW UP!!! ur from IIM B … hard to believe it… i mean did they teach words called as “Being Practical”?

    Just read about ESPN STAR and the amount of work they have put into sports and coverage then Criticize them.

    I think its shame that the rights in India for UCL have been given away to TenSports. Phew… Yucks!!!

    And u meant u prefer to watch La Liga over UCL… thats interesting… dufferings… thats what u r..

    Warm Regards,

  12. !
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