Shall I call it the Great Indian Dream or the Ambitious Dream of Subhash Chandra? Whatever it is, the idea has started to become the biggest follyin Indian business world in recent years. I am talking about our first domestic cricket league, Indian Cricket League(ICL).
Promoted by Subhash Chandra of the Zee and having roped in Kapil Dev, Tony Grieg, Kiran More and Dean Jones as the board members, ICL was touted as a direct competition for India's cricket mammoth, BCCI. But, the recent turn of events looks like the mammoth has grown bigger and the newly formed to-be mammoth has turned out to be a tortoise.
They selected the worst time to debut. The entire event went unnoticed in the event of "Sholay of Cricket" - that was how the ongoing India-Pakistan matches were described by Ashish Kaul, Essel Group's (it promotes Zee) executive VP. Everything went wrong from the beginning. And it was a very costly fall.
The biggest mistake was to telecast the matches only in Zee sports. It is one of the least viewed sports channel and almost around 2 million Tata Sky subscribers doesn't have access to it. In the last moment they suddenly realised something (maybe Subhash sat in a pitch and floodlights shown on him that gave an enlightment). They planned to show the first 30 minutes in all Zee channels. Great indeed!! Who is gonnna watch it?
The second mistake was the worst publicity campaign. I never saw any good ads other that those in Zee about the matches. Maybe they thought all the publicity that they got while forming ICL and the controversy regarding it will take care of the publicity campaign.
And then came the astronomical prices they asked for a ten second slots. They also wanted something un-imaginable from the would-be ground partner Foster's that they caught the next flight and flew all the way back to Australia!! (maybe they asked for a stake and free beer for lifetime). Anyway, they got about one-third or less than that they asked for a ten-second slot. It will go on reducing for the future matches as the TRP tumbling. For the opening match on Nov 30, the TRP for Zee sports was under1. The channels that showed the first 30 minutes, especially Zee Business and Zee Cafe gave "0" ratings on the second day. Thank God, it can't go to negatives.
It has been rumored that around 30 crores of rupees have been betted on ICL by Zee and Essel. As the way it goes now, this will break the complete Zee network. If at least they want to generate some money to save their souls, they have to come up some different strategy. Like telecasting matches in DD Sports and entering into a revenue sharing agreement with them. Or else, this will be the first and the last of ICL and BCCI with its IPL will have the last laugh.