ESPN Star Sports delivered a rude shock to football fans across the country on Saturday by not broadcasting the opening English Premier League (EPL) match between Liverpool and Stoke City on any of its regular channels.
Although Premier League football is supposed to be broadcast on Star Sports and Star Cricket this season, one could watch the game only on Star Cricket HD. When contacted, ESPN Star Sports was unavailable for comment. However, sources say that this was a ploy to promote its HD channels.
As the penetration of HD channels in the country is remarkably low, frustrated fans were forced to stream the match through various websites.
The regular channels ran season previews in Hindi while the competition had already kicked-off in earnest.
Until this season, the channel received its Premier League feed from Sky Sports (UK). But British Telecom Sport bought the TV rights for 38 games this season and the Liverpool-Stoke match was its weekend pick. The rest of the matches will still be broadcast by Sky Sports.
EPL coverage returned to Star Sports and Star Cricket at 7.30 p.m. but, unlike previous seasons when different matches were shown on separate channels, only the Arsenal-Aston Villa match was available.
Moreover, no pre-match discussion was broadcast.