THE OFFICIAL BROADCASTERS OF I-League, the top division football league of India, have decided not to telecast a high number of matches in the second half of the season.
Star Sports have released a statement saying they will not telecast 30 of the remaining matches of the season, breaking from their admirable streak of broadcasting almost every match ever since they came aboard. But for the rest of the 2018-19 season, they will mostly focus on matches of clubs like East Bengal, Mohun Bagan and Chennai City FC, leaving most other clubs with many matches without a telecast.
The network took up the rights in 2017 and nearly every I-League match was beamed live on TV, save a couple that were left out due to unforeseen circumstances; once due to an unfortunate accident that befell the uplink truck on its way to Imphal.
Although many fans were miffed by the facts that the network did not promote I-League matches and did not show any highlights or repeats of I-League matches while ISL highlights were run on endless repeating loops, there was unanimous goodwill for Star Sports due to them showing every match live. It was a marked improvement from the previous telecast deal with Ten Action which showed 75 matches every season, leaving fans unable to catch a number of matches live.
While no official reason for the decision has been communicated by the network, a clear apathy towards I-League was visible from Star Sports this season as they moved all top flight games to Star Sports 3, a new channel with no High Definition equivalent and unavailable on many prominent platforms. This decision to leave many games without a broadcast only reinforces that attitude.
Indian Super League, provisionally recognized by Asian Football Confederation as a cup tournament and partially owned by Star, enjoys high definition telecast prime time of every match in multiple channels and languages on the same network.
Hotstar, the online streaming platform owned by Star, earlier said in a statement that they would only stream the matches that were shown on TV; which raises a possibility that many I-League matches will not even be streamed, leaving fans completely unable to watch the action on any platform.