|By Sumaira Jajja|
With two thirds of Pakistan's population around the age of 25 and passionate about sports especially cricket, the launch of GEO Super comes as no surprise. A channel that is 100% about sports, GEO Super is all set to give an adrenalin rush to the sporting fans. Following hot on heels after the launch of AAG, the channel for the feisty and fiery youth, GEO Super is yet another first from GEO TV Networks. In the plethora of satellite channels, GEO Super is in a league of its own. It's the answer to the sporting needs of any ardent sports fan as GEO Super is all about playing games - no pun intended there. Be it the sixers and bouncers of cricket, the aces and bases of tennis or the beach volley ball matches that raise the mercury level and pulse rates, GEO Super has it all.
Launched in record time, GEO Super could not have had a better start. A seamless Seven Day Test launched into the media world Pakistan's first indigenous sports channel, devoted to Pakistan sport but having the clout to bring you two of the greatest cricket shows in the world-The ICC Champions Trophy and the World Cup, live and exclusive. With the ICC Champions Trophy currently being played, GEO Super has already struck an ace with the cricket fans. With Pakistan playing cricket in the ICC Champions Trophy, GEO Super has a sure shot winner. Capitalising on the cricket mania that grips the nation when the national team plays, GEO Super has the peepers of the cricket maniacs practically glued to the TV screens.
One might wonder if there is really a need for a sports channel in Pakistan. Responding to this query Yousaf Baig Mirza, MD GEO TV says, "Geo Super caters to the audience in Pakistan who had to watch foreign sports channels by default as they had no other option. With GEO Super, we have given the viewers an alternate, an option that caters to their sports needs and yet is very Pakistani in its soul". Elaborating on this Yousaf Baig Mirza goes on to say, "For years now the Pakistani viewer has been bombarded with views and news catering to the foreign viewer. If at all there was focus on the regional viewer, it was all Indian. Now a viewer can look forward to more of their own when it comes to coverage, analysis and the final judgment in sport. At last we have a voice in this field". With presentation that is at par with international sports channels and yet with a Pakistani outlook, GEO Super is no doubt a voice for the average Pakistani sports fan.
GEO's association with sports is nothing new. Since it began its regular transmission in 2002, GEO has been actively reporting sports related news. Way back in 2002, GEO News started off with a regular news segment that focused on sports. Titled GEO Sports, the hourly segment updated the viewers about the international and national sports scene. What set the sports news apart from the content being aired on other channels was the focus on other sports and games apart from cricket, games such as Dabboo, tape ball and kabadee made it to the TV screens of viewers and were given a boost. The same year, GEO Cricket, a regular news segment was launched that gave coverage to news pertaining to cricket activities. From an amazing sixer to slapping bans and retirement news or match fixing scandals, GEO Cricket is a quick update for the cricket fans.
By the end of 2003, Match Box, a magazine sports show was launched. While the Pakistani audience was used to watching similar sports shows from foreign channels, what set Match Box apart from other such shows was that for the first time in-depth analysis and views were given from a Pakistani perspective. With candid interviews, witty chitchats and other trivia, the show is Pakistan's answer to Gillette World Sports and likes and continues to date.
For Geo as well as for sports in Pakistan, 2003 proved to be quite a year. For the first time, a Pakistani series was telecasted live by a private channel, breaking the monopoly of the state broadcaster. The Dhamaka Series was held in the aftermath of the deadly bomb blast that forced the New Zealand team to cancel its Pakistan tour. On high spirits, the Pakistani team went on to trounce the Kiwis and won the series. Following hot on the heels of the victory was the Polo World Championship, Zone D Playoff tournament.
Pakistan was awarded the presentation of the Zone D Playoff Tournament that includes the countries of Africa, Asia and Oceania. On December 5, 2003 at the Lahore Polo Club in Pakistan the opening ceremony of the World Championship was the start of a very important and wonderful event for the world of polo.
Pakistan put up a spectacular show far removed from the cricket pitch proving that Pakistanis don't eat, live and breathe cricket.
Playing in front of a strong 7000 plus crowd, Pakistan and India played each other determined to go to the finals. A Pakistani player came up with the ball at the throw in, took one short hit out of the pack, one long ball to his player out front who took 3 nice shots to goal for a victory for Pakistan. With this fiery goal, Pakistan qualified for the Polo World Championships 2004 bringing the year to a dhamakaydaar close.
A regular segment by the name of GEO Hockey was introduced that reported field hockey news with expert opinions and players' views. In January 2005, GEO covered the first ever marathon, 'Run Lahore Run' live and exclusive. Line of Cricket (aka LoC) was started with the India-Pakistan series in 2005. With Opening Spell (a pre match briefing), Middle Order (the lunch show) and Bails Off analysing the day's play, LoC was a one of a kind sports presentation in Pakistan that discussed the game in detail. 'Captain's Corner' gave the captain of the team a chance to give his scrutiny of the match.
Keeping in line with its policy to promote sports, GEO went on to bring boxing to the fore. GEO Boxer had a round up on the boxing news. Whetting the appetites of the boxing fans, with much fan fare and careful packaging, GEO launched Pakistan's first boxing league, Boxer in 2006. Boxer had proper pre-ranking and ranking fights done in conjunction with Pak Boxing Federation and International Amateur Boxing Association. Aptly titled 'Boxer - Aik Muka Aur', the NBL was an instant success. With a catchy and spirited score and adrenalin pumping teasers of boxers, the campaign generated a lot of curiosity amongst the sports fans. What happened next was nothing less then a power punch and Pakistani boxing would never be the same. With a Madison Square feel to it, it provided the boxers with a perfect platform to showcase their boxing skill. Not only did it allow the boxers to groom themselves for international competitions, it brought laurels to GEO as well as the highly charged "Aik Muka Aur" promo went on to win the Promax BDA Award. The Tasadum Series featuring boxers from India and Pakistan and Aik Tasadum Aur having pugilists from Iran and America further strengthened the boxing league's standing.
With more high profile events in the pipeline, there is an ever-going quest to improve GEO Super everyday. Navied Siddiqui, GEO's Marketing Manager says, "GEO Super basically focuses on the superlative element pertaining to sports. Whether it's the thrilling matches or the larger than life personas of sportsmen, Super aims at highlighting all that." Although Super is the first ever sports channel from Pakistan, it has a lot of firsts too. "Live programming is Super's forte. We are airing the ICC Champions Trophy while GEO Super will also show the World Cup 2007 too". To keep a loyal fan base and have the viewers stay tuned to Super a lot of wrap around programming is being done. "Rather than relaying matches, we are also focusing on wrap around programming that will go on air while a big sporting event is taking place. Along with the happenings on the ground, we will have in-depth discussion, unbiased analysis, interviews, reviews, candid talk shows and packages that will give the viewers an enhanced interactive sporting experience", says Navied.
From highlighting the achievements of the past and present sports heroes to bringing into limelight the new talent, to telecasting anything and everything that is related to sports, GEO Super is heading in the right direction. Match Box, Kick Off, Boxer-Aik Muka Aur and the feisty wrestling bonanza titled Thaa Kar Ke! are already household names. GEO Super aims at providing quality sports related programming. With the upcoming second round of Boxer in 2007 as well as Pakistan's first football league in offing, along with the much-anticipated World Cup 2007, GEO Super is in for non-stop sporting action.