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Sony LIV's Asian Games Coverage leaves Indian basketball fans frustrated
Neither of the two Indian women’s quarterfinals was aired, non-India basketball games were shown instead at the same time, or else other sports were broadcast under the “Basketball” tab.
The Indian basketball contingent’s Asian Games 2023 campaign ended last evening in Hangzhou, with the women’s 5v5 squad losing in the quarterfinals to North Korea.
In the 3x3 division, the Indian women’s team too reached the quarterfinals, while the men’s side lost a closely fought pre-quarterfinals game to Iran.
But basketball fans in India found it hard, and often impossible, to root for their teams.
Basketball action on Sony LIV wasn’t consistently streamed live.
Crucial Quarterfinals not shown
Neither of the two women’s quarterfinals was aired on Sony LIV.
To make matters more frustrating, under the “Basketball” tab, other sports like badminton or boxing were shown instead.
Adding insult to injury, at the exact time as the India vs North Korea women’s quarterfinals game, it was the China vs Chinese Taipei quarterfinals match that was broadcast instead - and that too under the “table tennis” tab.
Those of us - including premium paying subscribers - who valiantly tried switching between multiple streams - had to also contend with first sitting through non-skippable ads (congrats Kotak and Reliance Foundation Lehra Do, you are now seared in our long-term memory), only to find the sport of our choice not being telecast after all.
Sony LIV’s official response
To be fair to Sony LIV, they were quick to respond with the following explanation, that too from a senior PR professional:
“We recognise and appreciate the enthusiasm to watch and support #TeamIndia in basketball. However, the host broadcaster is not televising every basketball match at the Asian Games, thus restricting our coverage.
We did provide the live broadcast (Sony Sports Network channels) as well as livestream (Sony LIV) the Women's 3x3 - India vs Uzbekistan & Men's 3x3 - India vs Malaysia on 25th September along with Men's 3x3 - India vs Macao on 27th September. We also livestreamed Women's 3x3 - India v Malaysia earlier today on Sony Liv.
We remain committed to providing comprehensive coverage of Team India at the Asian Games and delivering quality sports content.”
Additionally, Sony’s supervising producer for the Asian Games had this to say on Instagram:
“It would take very long to explain to you the why’s and the the how’s of Multi sports broadcast and its limitations - so won’t get into it. We will try our best to incorporate your feedback.”
Neither of the above replies directly addressed the issue of misleading tabs though, nor whether at least the highlights of all the Indian basketball games will be uploaded on Sony LIV’s YouTube channel, for comfort viewing. (At the time of writing this article - the highlights of four 3x3 games - India vs Malaysia women’s pre-quarterfinals, India vs Macao and India vs Malaysia men’s preliminary pool games, and India vs Uzbekistan women’s preliminary pool game - are available on YouTube.)
Economics at play?
The complexities of broadcasting multi-sport events reveal a combination of technological and economic factors that are perhaps at play.
No doubt, a live multi-sport event involves a lot of jugglery and seems to be a fine balancing act between prioritizing different sports, each with its own passionate fan base.
But from the fans’ POV: at the very least, the broadcasters could have ensured that the right sport was displayed under the right tab.
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