Of all the mind-boggling figures revealed during the current conversation broadcast rights of indian cricketOf course, one statistic stands out: Television viewership is falling, and digital streaming rights are on the rise. This is the story of our times – the disappearance of the communal experience of watching sports with family and friends. Watching the game has become a solo quest, a monastic experience. It’s rare now to react to a moment in play by going beyond your own heart and mind and peeking into the emotional – sometimes dark – hearts of others.
TV IPL ratings have dropped significantly while streaming digital rights are on the rise. Television viewership in general is falling, not just in sports. TV revenues are projected to grow by only 6 percent over the next five years, while digital rights are expected to grow by 30 percent. DTH operators like Tata Sky, Airtel have lost viewership. DTH signifies the death of the communal experience of watching TV. The media rights fetched BCCI Rs 48,390 crore, with Disney-Star getting the TV rights for the Indian subcontinent and Viacom18/Reliance getting a wider space in the digital segment.
The mind goes back to childhood – to the living room in the maternal grandparents’ house where uncles, cousins, neighbours, friends would gather for a cricket game. It was a house in which the best of abuses came out openly during matches and more spectators than cricketers were the target of it. Like a bearded raw, a distant relative whose real name never entered my mind. Kutch was the single most abused man in that house.
Long before our cricket-watching lives, it was clear that the jovial lungi-clad briefs, who had the ability to talk to kids in a really friendly way, was a maniac who had to be avoided at all costs. The doors and three windows were meshed, and a piece of towel or sari was spread over them, so that the “evil eye” of Kutch would not affect the game. Sealed, he may have been, but he was either happy or masochistic: raw always came to the fore, and lay outside the front door to gather news of cricket, to the outpouring of our joy or dismay.
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There was another middle-aged man, called “Mookan” (pronounced Nasir Hussain-ish ‘nose’ for physical reasons), who lived on the street. No one has seen such a staunch supporter of the Indian team – who would believe that a hit could happen against Balwinder Singh Sandhu Imran Khan Or with a healthy dose of Malcolm Marshall French Cuts, and win the game. Grandfather would talk to the opposition and give him a needle and confront the abuses of Mookan, who, in the same breath, blushed at Dadi and asked for a hot cup of filter coffee with “sakkarai konjam thukla” (extra helping of sugar) – He was a borderline diabetic and was not allowed such sordid luxuries at home. And yes, Mookan hated the guts of Kutch. fun times. The stadium-like experience in a living room, with a great sense of humour, and the occasional outrageous throwback, was worth cycling for a few kilometers. This is something the younger generation can never experience.
But such experiences are lost for some time. The latest broadcast rights have only sealed the damage. Smartphones have been around for a long time. Even at night, when their kid listens to podcasts, spouses are glued to either Netflix or Insta. The cricket was already trapped in the little rectangular screen of our palms.
In cities, in skyscrapers, many of us don’t know our neighbors anyway. Parents may not like cricket. Friends may not share our interest in the game. The intrusion of others may not have been welcomed by all. Particularly, for this generation that grew up in a bubble for most things – entertainment, online study, social media – even though, paradoxically, an excess of loneliness has diminished the quality of solitude.
To understand the importance of smartphones, even entertainment has to go beyond cities and big cities. A few years back, some of us were in Nimgawan village in Maharashtra, which was in danger of being submerged in Narmada waters after raising the height of the Sardar Sarovar Dam. A boy swam under the setting sun across a reservoir formed by a river to join us under a mahua tree in a small school. Cricket came up in our conversation and we showed him the latest score of a game on our phone. His massive response to technology is etched in the mind. His father, he said, had a normal phone but no internet; Maybe one day he will get it and follow the score like us, he said. It was no surprise that the Internet was making its presence felt in Hamlet. First they gave us cheap internet, then they took over our headspace. This is no mourning because it has changed lives.
The present generation may not even realize that something is lost because it is the only experience they know. And not everyone wants to be a mook in their life or to be a crude one waiting for the wind to lift the thin cloth standing between him and the crickets on TV. But it felt wonderfully good while it lasted. Sorry, raw, I never knew your name and only smiled at you, lest the elders saw it, but could you please discuss. India is in good shape now – don’t confuse it.
‘या लेखात समाविष्ट असलेल्या कोणत्याही माहिती/सामग्री/गणनाची अचूकता किंवा विश्वसनीयता हमी नाही. ही माहिती विविध माध्यमे / ज्योतिषी / पंचांग / प्रवचन / विश्वास / धर्मग्रंथांमधून गोळा करून तुमच्यासाठी आणली गेली आहे. आमचा हेतू फक्त माहिती पोहोचवणे आहे, त्याच्या वापरकर्त्यांनी ती फक्त माहिती म्हणून घ्यावी. याव्यतिरिक्त, त्याचा कोणताही वापर वापरकर्त्याची स्वतःची जबाबदारी असेल. ‘
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