Pakistani sports channels and death by advertising

Published: April 1, 2014

I understand the need for TV channels to show ads to finance their transmissions and that companies want the best possible slot for their advertisements (i.e. when most people are glued to their screens) but is it fair on the people watching?

As I write this, Umar Gul has just bowled out a Bangladeshi batsman. Gul screams in celebration, begins to jump with his fists in the air and then there’s Rameez Raja with a cup of tea in his hand. Wait… what? That can’t be right.

Sadly, it is.

Few things get under my skin as much as excessive advertising during cricket matches.

Whether we’re being convinced that a slab of not-so-expensive chocolate will suffice as a midnight anniversary present (take it from me, it doesn’t) or that the amount of egg in a biscuit is reason for six women to put on shiny clothes and dance, glimpses of our beloved cricket team are supplemented by these pieces of… um… art.

There’s been a steady upward trend in recent years where as many as six to seven advertisements are being shown on TV in between overs. Actually, they’re shown as soon as the last ball of the over is bowled.

And when a wicket is taken.

And when they can’t find the ball that Shahid Afridi just hit for a six.

And when a poor Bengali man is holding his knee in agony.

And – this just happened – when Saeed Ajmal takes a brilliant catch.

I would have loved to see him celebrating but no. Thou shalt not celebrate. Instead, thou shalt discover what thou shalt eat at 7pm or risk being screamed at by thy maiden. Hint: It’s a biscuit. I’ll buy the damn biscuits, just let me watch him celebrate in peace please!

Oh and did I mention the beautiful, artfully made, aesthetically pleasing, absolutely divine logos that keep popping up during the match?

These are usually facilitated with an, absolutely necessary, little ad-belt at the bottom of the screen, as there is one right now while Kamran Akmal yells out in anticipation of another wicket.

“24 hours free” (Like we just told you a minute ago, at the end of the last over but in case you’ve forgotten, we’ll just tell you again. Also, we don’t really mean 24 hours. We put an asterisk. Somewhere.)

It’s gotten out of hand.

I understand the need for TV channels to show advertisements to finance their transmissions and that companies want the best possible slot for their advertisements (that being when most people are glued to their screens) but is it fair on the people watching?

Is it really necessary for a sports channel to cut off wicket, century and match winning celebrations (the essence of the sports) to show Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis playing with bottles of carbonated beverages? (We also discover elsewhere that Wasim bhai loves socialising on his phone. What a man.)

Oh and here’s tea-bearing Rameez bhai again, cutting off commentating Rameez bhai midsentence.

This problem seems to be exclusive to Pakistani TV channels. Indian sports channels also show advertisements but always at the end of an over – after the commentator reads out the score – or after there’s been a sufficient amount of time following the fall of a wicket.

South African and Australian sports channels sometimes don’t show advertisements at all. That’s why you will find me browsing the vast array of channels at my disposal, desperately searching for an alternative to Pakistani television.

Oh, and they just stopped Lala mid-celebration in favour of a man selling potatoes who is somehow related to a bank. Blasphemy!

If Pakistani channels really want higher ratings, they need to stop getting other channels banned and increase their own allure. Cutting down on advertising will go a long way. There must be a way to reduce the number of ads – shorter ads, maybe? PEMRA restrictions, maybe? Having 30 sponsors on the cricket team’s uniform, maybe? (Just, please leave some space for the flag).

Having chirpier pre-match show hosts and panellists might also help (I’m looking at you, Bazid Khan).

I will end this here because now I really, really feel the need to go and buy insurance (because its good with trucks), some biscuits (they solve marital issues and make women want to dance, why wouldn’t I?), only one kind of carbonated beverage (because I really love Ayesha Umar’s totally not auto-tuned voice telling me that my “heart wants it now”, again and again), a couple of phones (the perfect way to make friends and be k3wl. There. I said it), five mobile phone SIM cards (there must be some way to save money by using all five simultaneously, right?) and to wash it all down, a cup of tea (because Rameez bhai said so).

And here’s Wasim Akram selling that phone again. What. A. Man.

Zain Saeed

Zain Saeed

A devout cricketist, Zain graduated from LUMS last year and is now on his way to Germany to pursue a Masters in Linguistics.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Kamran Hayder

    PTV Sports now a days broadcast TV ads with little chunks of cricket match.
    And then our govt officials said that its not business of the state to do business..huhhRecommend

  • Zain Ali


  • Yousuf Pishori

    True! Sometimes feel like cracking my TV. I am a Patriotic Pakistani but to be Frank I watch Star Sports Hindi Commentary.Recommend

  • Javed Hayat

    Couldnt agree more with you, and glad that somebody finally pointed it out. These rather abrupt on-your-face ads are extremely irksome. I frankly dont think that advertisers gain any mileage by being the nuisance that they have become for their potential consumers.Recommend

  • Sajjad Janjua

    I have already discussed and suggested at many forums that TV Cable and Service Providers can get benefit to come up with a Business model of telecasting the match on special charges to all Customers its workable model and I hope PIMRA would love to get more profits from Cable operators in case any customers wants to see a Ads free match he/she needs to submit per match charges (like 4 hours match without Advertisement Premium broadcast service) – This Idea can be placed in Business model and Customers can be free from this bombardment of polluted embarrassing million times repetitive attacking minds adds in the matches, I was guessing numbers of these SPAM adds per wicket , per over and now even when someone celeberates they show annoying add which is not requried we are there to enjoy matches not stupid advertisments on wrong time . This is like you are attending a funeral and some one comes and start selling Tea , Biscuits , Chocolates in the graveyard during the funeral –

    Its my wish that one day in Pakistan I can get a Premimum service where I am ready to pay to watch neat and clean Sports broad cast without any sound polluted adds.

    The CAN-SPAM Act type Law can be made by PIMRA to empower people to know what they are going to see on TV and what they are not interested to see simple as that.Recommend

  • Muhammad Ahmed

    Awesomely written !!! Truley the pain is super matual among all viewers n cricket fans, and u r dead rite that tred of over advertising has increased exponentially past couple of years or so,, ruining the beauty of live matches :@Recommend

  • Muhammad Ahmed

    Wats more TENSPORTS has also started same practice and on some instances even match get resumes on PTV SPorts first while 10sports showing some stupid adsRecommend

  • Warda

    ‘I would have loved to see him celebrating but no. Thou shalt not celebrate. Instead, thou shalt discover what thou shalt eat at 7pm or risk being screamed at by thy maiden.’ LOLRecommend

  • sidjeen

    in the early days of cable TV i used to see a few channels by the name of super sports. boy did they know how to broadcast sports especially cricket. ah the good old days. by the way totally agree with you.Recommend

  • Parvez

    NFP did a brilliant piece in DAWN on the same subject…….from that I realised that I had the option of watching cricket on Star something-o-the-other and trust me, as NFP rightly said, I watched more cricket and the adds ( though Indian ) were entertaining.Recommend

  • abubakar

    You sir are amazing, what an article, right I mean these channels are pathetic and greedy, that’s why I never watch a match on our pakistani channels instead watch it on indian channels where even the scorecard is shown in hindk but still atleast you can watch cricket rather than ads and more ads and that too very lame ads. Greed knows no bounds really. Recommend

  • Shamy

    thanks for writing my mind. wicked !Recommend

  • Shehzad

    Actually the foreign sports channels also do it pretty much with a similar frequency – ten sports, star etc. In u.s., many sports breaks are set-up in a way to accommodate advertisements every few minutes – eg. Football, Nba.
    And yes, just because the author thinks them to have no impact doesn’t mean that they don’t – the author, or I for that matter, is a one very small target of these ads being viewed by tens of millions of people; Evidence shows, that targeted ads such as Rameez or Waseem/Waqar’s associating with certain brands during a cricket — would have a significant audience which would be receptive to those ads. You can be sure that those placing these ads costing huge amounts of money are not so naïve that they cannot realize whether their ads work or not.Recommend

  • Umm Ali

    Hear, hear!
    I’ve stopped watching Pakistani sports channels because of this very reason!
    While this is especially annoying during a live match, the number of ads, logo pop-ups, and side ads (when the program becomes a small square and there is the damn ad around it) during regular transmission is equally ridiculous.
    Enough with the advertisements already!Recommend

  • zafar

    totally agree with the blogger…. by this act of Pakistan sport channels i am forced to take me to star sports where i can see the match without any advertisement but same time cant understand the Hindi language written in score card bar sheetRecommend

  • Omer

    Funny story you cant even file a complaint against PTV on PEMRA websiteRecommend

  • Citizen

    What a piece of writing ! spot on. I agree with everything and i am glad some one brought it up . PEMRA should take some concrete steps .Recommend

  • ali

    excellent piece I wil say everyone feels the same about these damn adverts you just want to switch off, heed peoples stanceRecommend


    acha tha.. :pRecommend

  • IBAalumni

    A poor attempt at copying Nadeem F Paracha’s similar write-up from Dawn! Recommend

  • donshon

    I agree that advertisements on Pakistani channels are annoying to the extreme but here’s the thing. There’s no other way for these channels to make money. You gave examples of sports broadcast in other countries, the thing is those channels also make money through subscriptions. Pakistan doesn’t have that model of business. The cable operators charge money from people and that is that, no one knows whether they pay those channels anything or not. So unless the whole TV delivery business is overhauled, I’m afraid viewers like us will have to live through this bombardment of annoying ads.Recommend

  • Anum.F

    How about encouraging our countrymen for once instead of always being so negative about everything? Gosh! Cut the kid some slack and use your energy in something productive.Recommend

  • IBAalumni

    Sorry, but plagiarism is not my idea of “encouraging our countrymen”.Recommend

  • Zain

    I don’t know where my earlier reply went (it was a lot funnier promise). I actually haven’t read the article in question. I write about things that stay far away from controversy, yet someone always manages to find something to crib about. Thank you for your opinion.Recommend

  • IBAalumni

    Ignorance is not a valid alibi either :DRecommend

  • Zain

    Peace and love, bro/sis. To each his own.Recommend

  • Umar Farooq

    Every time when i watch some ptv drama or match with my father he turns the tv OFF during the advertisement and this happens again and again.Recommend