THE I-LEAGUE 2019-20 SEASON has kicked off just about a week ago and the clubs are still cutting their teeth into the groove of the competition.
Off the field, however, the wheels have been turning to ensure a widespread broadcast of the league.
The official broadcasters of I-League are DSport, who have been showcasing the matches with an improved 8-camera setup and a new graphics package. Unlike the last season with a rather low-key telecast on Star Sports 3, this season AIFF announced that all of the matches would be televised; and for the first time there would be prime-time kick offs at 7 pm, which the league was deprived of to avoid a clash with ISL.
Now, to add to all that, there are two new broadcasters on board to showcase the league. From 7th December onwards, popular Bengali news channel Kolkata TV will telecast all I-League matches with Bengali commentary. Down south, News 24 have also signed on to telecast all matches of Gokulam Kerala FC, home and away, with Malayalam commentary.
News 24, which is partly owned by the Gokulam group, has been considering becoming a broadcaster for a long time. Back in May, Gokulam Kerala FC president VC Praveen told TFG in an exclusive interview that they were planning to pick up the rights. Meanwhile, Kolkata TV have had a long history of showcasing football, including the Calcutta Football League and IFA Shield.
There have been past instances where I-League had two broadcasters; but this is the first time the league has picked up 3 different television partners.
After the doubts and uncertainty surrounding the league since the ISL was launched in 2014, the way the current season has been structured will come as a welcome relief to the fans whose favourite clubs have finally got a chance to reach a wide audience and pick up some sponsors thanks to a guarantee of playing on prime time TV.