World Cup Matches in Multiplexes Turning Non-starter

New Delhi, Feb 17 , (PTI) : Planning to watch a World Cup match in a cinema hall? The plan may just not materialise as cineplex owners are yet to seal a deal with the broadcaster. 

The official broadcaster ESPN Star Sports, which also has theatrical rights for the event to be played between February 19 and April 2, has not yet signed with any multiplex chain. The firm did not disclose the reason behind the same.

Multiplex companies, however, said ESPN is asking for "unrealistic" price making screening of the matches on the big screen commercially unviable.

"The commercials are not working out with the broadcaster and the 100 per cent entertainment tax further makes it difficult. It is likely that we would not be able to show the matches," Cinemax India CEO Sunil Punjabi told PTI.

Cinemax has 105 screens, predominantly in Western India although it has started expanding in the North and South.

Asked about the financials, he said the broadcaster is asking for a fixed fee which is 'unrealistic' but declined to disclose the sum.

Another leading multiplex chain PVR Ltd, also has not yet finalised any deal with ESPN Star Sports.

"We are still working on it. We are yet to decide which matches to show," PVR Cinemedia CEO Gautam Dutta said.

PVR Cinemas had shown IPL matches live on 18 screens last year.

Dutta had earlier said that between the two tournaments, the World Cup is expected to generate more interest among people as India as a team would be playing after a long time.

Satyam Cineplexes that has 21 screens at Indore, Delhi and Jodhpur, is also not very keen on World Cup this time.

According to a company official, last year when the company had screened the IPL matches, there were not too many takers.

"People do not want to spend so much money to watch a match in a theatre. We have not finalised any plans for the WC," the official, who asked not to be identified, said.

Another multiplex chain Big Cinemas, owned by Reliance MediaWorks, is also going to keep away from the World Cup and is more inclined towards IPL.

Analysts pointed out that screening 50 over World Cup matches in cinema halls, where viewers have to spend nearly seven hours, is less attractive compared to T20 matches. 


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