IPL set to hot up battle for eyeballs

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/i/ipl-collage.jpg' class='caption'> A lot of interest has been generated by the multi million dollar Indian Premier League.

Updated: April 17, 2008 07:15 IST
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A lot of interest has been generated by the multi million dollar Indian Premier League. And all eyes will be on the opening match on April 18 in Bangalore. It's been seen as a revolution in entertainment but the big question is will it pull in enough viewers to break even?

The soap opera -- family tear-jerkers, of alliances, dalliances, romances at one extreme, and splits, backbiting and plots on the other takes on the cricket opera. Reality cricket, with a K.

It is cool, hip, has the best international cricketers as stars of the opera. And glamour boys, girls and an assortment of tycoons, as team owners, making the Indian Premier League the biggest game show cricket has ever seen.

And both the cricket opera and the soap opera will come to your screens at prime time in the hope that in the household battle for the control of the remote, more buttons will press the Set Max channel.

''The one underlying factor that binds this entire nation, whether it comes to movies or TV or anything that has to do with our lives outside our work area is entertainment, says Sneha Rajani, CEO, SET Max.

And if you deliver on the entertainment quotient, I think you will automatically find people tuning in. So here's one very good proposal. What we are saying is that is this four hours, 3.5 hours of unadulterated, high-drama, highly volatile entertainment that will unfold on the TV screens.

Two, what is going to unfold, you and I don't know. So it is the best in reality TV so to speak, because we don't know how a game will play out or pan out. You have a realistic game show playing out, so to speak, it is strong enough programming, she says.

Shah Rukh Khan doing Darde disco before matches, or Preity Zinta hosting a game show in Mohali remains to be seen.

But what s definitely on the cards is a grand opening ceremony in Bangalore with Vijay Mallya playing host on April 18 when the IPL will kick off.

But make no mistake. This isn t copybook cricket. Rules are being rewritten and it isn t really a fight between Test cricket and T20 or between cricket and football but actually between Kricket with a K and Kyu Ki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi or Kasauti serials, which will compete with the IPL for prime time viewing.

Lalit Modi, the IPL chairman, says the IPL will take on the K-serials.

This will be the biggest reality show, Modi says. It has the element of Bollywood and cricket combined hence it has the power to take on Saas Bahu serials.

The battle for eyeballs will get fiercer and some media buyers said that some major corporates with fresh new year budgets may play safe and back established soaps and talk shows hosted by super stars.

This game will not just be played on a 22-yard strip. The pitch will be different and the big picture could well unfold on the small screen.

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