Despite the fact that it’s a home series that is taking place since a while, and an India-Australia stand-off is second to none in excitement and drama, the ongoing test series seems be generating less than expected interest. Broadcaster Neo, though, has high expectations and is set to make Rs 90-110 crore from the 20 days of cricket for the series.
Neo Cricket has tied up Airtel which has just announced the launch of its Direct-to-Home service as the presenting sponsor. It has roped in Hero Honda, Toyota, Coca-Cola, Nivea, Pidilite, HDFC Standard Life and Royal Bank of Scotland, which has signed up Sachin Tendulkar as its new global ambassador, as associate sponsors for the series. “We are pretty full up and had sold out our complete inventory on day one. Except for a couple of secondages on a few days, most of our inventory, 92-93 per cent, has been taken,” says Mr Sunil Manocha, Executive Vice-President, (Ad Sales), Neo Sports Broadcast.
Rates according to industry sources are at around Rs 70,000 for a 10-second spot. Neo says it isn’t reducing its rates. “In fact, after closing our sponsorship, and seeing the response we hiked it to Rs 1 lakh,” says Mr Manocha.
Firstly there were the controversies from the last time the two countries met. Adding to the build-up and media interest is Sourav Ganguly’s decision to retire after the test series. Nonetheless, “Advertisers are banking on reality shows on general entertainment channels which give them better returns,” says Mr Tarun Nigam, Executive Director, StarCom India (North). Indian Idol on Sony, Big Boss 2 and Ek Khiladi Ek Hasina (the show that has cricketers in action, dancing) on Colors are all proving to be a lot more exciting and bankable, he adds.
“The series is not an eyeball or GRP (television ratings) buy, and would make sense to brands associated with cricket, or players who may be endorsers,” says Mr Gowthaman Ragothaman, Managing Director, Mindshare. “The pricing is expensive considering market sentiment and investment mood,” he says. Doordarshan is also not invoking its right to telecast sporting events of ‘national interest’ for this series, as it had done in the case of an earlier India-Pakistan test series.
The channel which is expecting average television ratings of 4 TVR points, says that that the most of the action during the test matches is during the day. “And of the 20 days during which the series is on, 11 are holidays and weekends,” points out Mr Manocha.
The festival season is when companies, particularly in the mobile and durable sectors, are likely to go all out to get consumers to open their purses. With the India-England series round the corner and the more exciting cricket in the pipeline, advertisers will have more cricket to choose from.