Is Cricket a big hit in Hindi? Time for Tamil, Telugu, Bangla…?

01 Jul,2013

By Johnson Napier


After a brilliant display of form in the just-concluded Champions Trophy, the men in blue have made it clear where they intend to be at the moment. And that’s at the top. Having won the confidence of their fans in a big way, their success is now being consumed in a language with an even wider scope – Hindi.

After sampling preferences over the past few seasons, broadcasters have now taken the plunge by relaying cricket feed in Hindi, which has matched up to its English counterpart and attracted its set of fans too. MxMIndia speaks to a cross-section of experts to analyze how Hindi cricket commentary has fared in the recent past in India (in alphabetical order of their last names).


P Balakrishna, COO - Allied Media

I am sure that there has been a positive impact that has been created by broadcasting commentary in Hindi. Let’s not forget that Hindi is the language which has the biggest and largest penetration as far as the pan-India market is concerned. All it has done is brought the game closer to the viewer. At the end of the day, while English commentary has its own charm but in terms or reach and understanding of the language, Hindi is of course the language that can connect with all HSM markets. While I am not sure on the numbers, I am sure that it has resulted in an incremental viewership numbers. What is critical with a game of cricket which has a huge mass connect is that the language of Hindi definitely has its charm of creating a strong impact with the audiences.


As for it being relayed in multiple languages, I do not see any scope for commentary to be expanded to other markets as largely between Hindi and English most of the markets are covered in India. If you see the non-Hindi markets, English has a very good penetration including in the South and the East. Doing commentary in other regional languages won’t really result in any rise in viewership or even monetary-wise.


Mona Jain, CEO, Vivaki Exchange

India has been performing very well so from that point of view there are audiences right now on that medium. In terms of brands who want to reach out to the audience through medium of Hindi, it could be a little low-key as of now as it is not a peak season and only those with deep pockets could be taking the plunge on the Hindi medium.

Also, cricket is very popular in the northern region so having a feed in that language makes sense; it also is the primary language at the moment. But it’s too early to discuss whether we need commentary in Tamil or Telugu or Bengali. There have to be enough numbers (audiences) out there for broadcasters to take that decision.


Hemant Kenkre, PR Professional and cricket columnist

I think it is great to have commentary in Hindi on major sports channels. In the past, All India Radio always combined English with Hindi with noted Hindi commentators like Jasdev Singh. During the Champions Trophy Indian cricket legends like Kapil Dev and Sunil Gavaskar (for the first time in Hindi) reached out to many viewers who are comfortable in Hindi.

The reach for Hindi channels is much more than that of any other language – which may have prompted Star to hire former Indian cricketers (including non-Hindi speaking commentators) to attract eyeballs. It is too early say how other languages will work but going by the success of Hindi, it is a matter of time before sports broadcasters look at other languages too.


Ayaz Memon, editor, veteran cricket writer & commentator

I think Hindi commentary has managed to create a huge impact in the recent past. You can see it happening in the recent India-West Indies-Sri Lanka Series and also the just-concluded Champions Trophy where it was well-received. In the earlier days, and as research would prove while a lot of people used to watch cricket on television in English they used to mute it and hear the commentary in Hindi on radio. So Hindi enables one to reach out to a far bigger and wider audience base which, I am sure, has seen an incremental hike in the numbers in recent past.

At the end of the day, when you pay the price for buying rights then your objective is to reach out to as large a number of audiences as possible. And if you can do that by broadcasting content in different languages then why not. It would be a sensible thing to do by broadcasters as India is a very diverse country that boasts multiple languages. Unlike countries like England that can air only in English or Pakistan in Urdu, we have an advantage of airing content in multiple languages and we should take advantage of that.


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One response to “Is Cricket a big hit in Hindi? Time for Tamil, Telugu, Bangla…?”

  1. bhupesh says:

    There are many local level tournaments, corporate cups, college and school level matches where the need of Hindi, English commentary have arisen recently. People who are good at this, know the game, can work voluntary as hindi cricket commentator or english cricket commentator. Let people know about your commentary skills. The following link has some profiles of commentators of such kind where one can make their cricket commentary heard