.by Anura Guruge
>> ZEE International … — July 26, 2013.
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Yesterday afternoon, around 4:15, the phone ran. It was a Akhilesh Gupta, the Director of Content Distribution for Asia TV USA — the ZEE Network affiliate in the U.S., based out of Manhattan. TEN Cricket is owned by ZEE.
Mr. Gupta had seen my rant about us in the U.S. losing TEN Cricket (other than for the short, online ‘clips’ on ESPN 3).
Mr. Gupta and I had an extremely pleasant and very productive conversation. I was very impressed, He was very forthright and gave me a lot of information — much of it which I will not share because it was of a sensitive nature.
I explained to Mr. Gupta the pain that us U.S. cricket fans are feeling. He understood. But, I think I managed to get through to him that ESPN 3 is not the answer to our needs.
The bottom line, as some of us had already deduced, is basic economics. Obtaining rights to major sporting events is not cheap. Networks have to recoup that money — as NBC clearly demonstrates every 2 years with the Olympics.
The issue in the U.S. is STILL the lack of adequate demand for PAID subscription.
It is a story that I am so familiar with and suffer in my own right. The Internet coupled with piracy (from Asia) is undermining so many ventures. It was like music and Napster.
Though we in the U.S. have a burgeoning population of cricket lovers many are unwilling or UNABLE to pay for it. I know that first hand. I don’t know many Sri Lankans in the U.S. or Canada. But, the few I know never subscribed to Willow or TEN. They watched cricket, for FREE, on the Internet. That is the problem. Many, and I know the same is true with Indians, have to be ‘careful’ with their expenditures because they send money back home. Kind of money. If you recall the people who advertised the MOST on cricket channels in the U.S. were the likes of XOOM.come, i.e., those that transfer money from the U.S./U.K. to India! So understandably the folks living in the U.S., to use a lovely expression from N.H., are ‘close to their dollar‘. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. IF we want something better than cricket on ESPN 3 we have to pay the piper. Simple as that.
According to Mr. Gupta, ZEE in the U.S. is exploring offering an ‘Over-the-Top’ (OTT) set-top, Internet powered solution. I think it might be this IPTV solution I talked about on June 15, 2013. Mr. Gupta is trying to see if he can get me an OTT box to try out. IF SO, I will, of course, keep all of you posted on my experience. IF it is a viable solution we will have to PULL TOGETHER to make that box a success in the U.S. So the first step is to try and get my hands on one.
I am in touch with Mr. Gupta by e-mail. I also have his phone number. This is good. Finally, WE, i.e., us cricket fans in the U.S., have a credible contact at ZEE.
I will keep you all posted. Thank Mr. Gupta. He did good.
Thank you Mr. Gupta.