Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Dhoni goes 'exclusive'

This is bizarre. A leading cricketer signing a contract to "give his views and interviews exclusively to NDTV for a period of one year"!

Agencyfaqs reports: Announcing the contract, Prannoy Roy, chairman, NDTV, said, "We hope to bring quality content and attract the cricket viewers of the country by featuring Dhoni’s exclusive views on the sport...."

Roy adds, "The deal with Dhoni does not restrict him from presenting his views on other media."

Now I have heard of cricketers endorsing colas, and shirts and energy drinks. And of course we can never be sure that these fellows actually use or drink any of these products. All that the guy handing over a few crores asks is that the star is never spotted using other brands in public.

But this NDTV-Dhoni tie up is a first. And it remains to be seen how it actually works. Whether it will be a 'symbiotic relationship', as Dr Roy calls it. Or an incestuous one.

Dhoni himself clarified that he would be present at BCCI interviews and it's not like he won't speak to other media at all. But surely he will be less enthusiastic about speaking to the 'competition'.

Jeet Banerjee, CEO, GamePlan Sports, clarifies, "The plan that NDTV has laid out for Dhoni, the way they will use his views, was very balanced and substantial. That is why we agreed to the contract. " However, NDTV refused to reveal the kind of shows it will air with Dhoni.

Since Dhoni makes as much news every time he changes the colour of his hair, as when he's out on field, the possibilities are limitless.

But seriously, the 'war for news' has hotted up to an extent where I think such 'initiatives' have become inevitable. The bigger question is - does it make sense for a reigning star to align himself with one or the other media house in an non-exclusively exclusive manner? Whatever that means?!!

Well, here's the upside. Instead of giving soundbytes to a number of reporters to after every match, Dhoni can now give one, more substantial soundbyte to a single channel. What's more - he's getting paid for it. Uske upar yeh, the channel will actively promote and showcase Dhoni on other shows.

Now if Dhoni remains as big a performer on field as he is today, other channels will not be able to 'ignore' him. They will have to grudgingly accept whatever chhota-mota interview he gives them.

However, the moment his performance slips, there is nothing to stop the other channels from baying for his blood. And the support of an NDTV alone at such a time would appear hollow and self-serving.

Given that Dhoni seems unstoppable at the moment, it's a calculated risk taken by NDTV. Would not be surprised if rival channels are in talks with the likes of Yuvraj Singh or Irfan Pathan...

The line between 'news' and entertainment is already blurred. With 'tie-ups' like this, it may soon be completely invisible.


  1. Actually This not the first, Remember Rahul Dravid and NDTV had such a thing in the past... infact that thing between em is still on...

    Only because whateva lil thing Dhoni does these days, is so big 4 every un, its being played so big...

    Well I am not complaining... Its a gr8 way 2 make ur competetors felt left behind! Hats off 2 the Business Man Prannoy Roy!

  2. Hi Rashmi. Just stumbled upon ur blog whicle reading through some others. I wonder if such a contract would really matter. Because active sportspeople rarely say whats on their mind. Its always the same 1-2 rattaoed sentences. So, whether its this channel or another, its goign to be the same thing.

  3. Hey Rashmi,

    I personally don't think this contract will make any difference ... it will be all the usual politically-correct statements ... the BCCI anyway doesn't allow the cricketers to talk about the things that actually matter.

    Dhoni is young, exciting and has a very promising future, but at the end of the day, he is not a part of the team management. One tiny controversial statement from Dhoni and watch out for the way the BCCI will react.

  4. There is a saying in Hindi, " Jo dikhta hai wo bikta hai". Its other connotations not withstandig, Mahindra Singh Dhoni is the flavour of the moment. If NDTV wouldnt have got him somebody else would have. Even if he does not utter a word and stands in front of the camera just nodding his head, people will still watch. Thats India.

  5. http://in.rediff.com/cricket/2006/may/09bcci.htm

    Here! The great BCCI gag ... continues to happen.

  6. This is not the first I believe... Remember Anil Kumble's exclusive snaps during the recent Pakistan tour exclusively to a television network... forgot which one it was, but definitely NDTV/IBN/TimesNOW!

  7. at this rate dhoni will become more popular than shah rukh khan. or is he already?

  8. Wonder if NDTV made a faux-pas considering the BCCI's gag order. But then, the BCCI reprimands or warns players only when they speak against the board's policy or in favour of Sourav Ganguly.

    Example is the man himself, who spoke about burnout being a non-issue, while Sehwag spoke about it being a big issue. Not surprising that only Sehwag was reprimanded, while both violated the order.

    So all Prannoy Roy has to do is ensure that Dhoni speaks in favour of the board :)

  9. Diggine deeper...
    Is the contract complusive in Dhoni to speak on any issue or answer to any question NDTV asks him??...If yes, can he dare speak on the Ganguly issue esp. when there is a gag order from BCCI.
    Dhoni is trudging a difficult path here.
    U r very apt when u say this'll b a trouble when he loses his performance levels.

    ahh...wait n watch.

  10. Dear Varun,

    You can watch all of your stars on the same channel, if you plan to watch the real action that is.

    But then if you wanna 'listen' to some crap that these great players have to say to the cameras facing them, you will definitely need your remote!

  11. yeah this was strange....but then I guess people while surfing would then stay on NDTV if they saw this long-haired dude spouting forth or 'walking the talk'....which brings me to mention - did you see how BCCI has spouted forth on Sehwag walking the talk?? The BCCI should keep out of player's lives!

    You should do a log on the news channel wars!!! I think it'd be so much more better if for news of social significance, they shared content atleast 1-2 days after airing it exclusively. So many sting operations go useless because many people may not be watching a CNN IBN or NDTV at all...if this same sting was broadcast on other news channels (maybe a day later), it'd have so much more significance.

  12. Hi,
    A friend mentioned your blog and I decided to check it out. I really liked your ending to the post. It's true... I think they bit off more than they could chew. I don't think they have enough material to cover 24 hours live news.

    I remember going to Barkha Dutts We, the people as one in the audience and I was shocked to see the questions planted. It was disgusting.

    As journalism student it pains me whenever people ask me whether after graduation I'll join a major 24/7 news channel. I don't think they qualify as 'journalists'. Entertainers or perhaps E!news would be more fitting.

  13. Hi Rashmi,

    Unrelated to this post, but anyway, for your perusal.


  14. @dazedandconfused

    I am not sure if you are dazed but you are certainly confused dude! What was the above link for??

  15. Greg Chappel reckons Dhoni is the next big thing and has leadership qualities. The World cup is coming up fast and Dhoni is a superstar in ODI format( i can dare to say he still has to prove himself in tests a la gilchrist style). What i reckon Dhoni will do with NDTV is
    1)Talk of cricket matches of the past he has been part of and how difficult it was or simple it was (on tthe fly with highlights on the tv)
    2)Contests where people can meet their idol in the carribean or watch a match with him in the world-cup.
    (PS:NDTV has also given 1 crore bounty to Sidhu, who doesn't play anymore).

  16. @amrit,

    my comment was for Rashmi's perusal. Don't blame me if you didn't get it!!


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