ESPN Star derisks on cricket viewership by signing long-term ad deals

24 Aug,2012

By Vijaya Rathore

 

In what could be seen as a fallout of falling television ratings for cricket, broadcaster ESPN Star Sports has for the first time ever forged long-term deals with advertisers that will help protect itself from any further drop in viewership.

 

Ahead of a long cricket season that kicks off with the India-New Zealand series on Thursday, ESPN said it entered club deals on almost all cricket events in its kitty for the calendar year like the T20 World Cup, Champions League, England’s tour of India and the Australia series. Broadcasters were until now only signing tournament-specific deals.

 

“Nokia, Havells, Maruti Suzuki and Tata Docomo have already come on board as sponsors for the entire cricket season,” says Sanjay Kailash, executive vice president, ESPN Software India. Mr Kailash did not share numbers, but industry sources with direct knowledge of the deals said ESPN has already managed to get advertisements worth Rs 2.8 billion through these deals.

 

Following the advent of T20, a shorter 20-overs-a-side form of the game, viewership for the longer 50-overs-a-side one-day internationals and Test matches have dipped. TV ratings for ODI matches during the year averaged 2.5, while TVR for T20 tournaments were around 4, according to a company that quoted data given by TAM India.

 

Mr Kailash said the four brands put together have bought around 40% of the total cricket advertising inventory for the calendar. “We are talking to a few more and plan to have around five-six long-term sponsors from categories like two wheelers and broadband services, besides doing deals for individual events.”

 

However, ESPN has not included the India-Pakistan cricket series to be played in December. “We expect a large number of people to watch that tournament and will work out separate deals,” said Mr Kailash, who expects to get premium rates for that series.

 

Advertisers also welcomed the move towards long-term deals. The country’s largest car maker Maruti Suzuki, for instance, believes long-term deals help a brand improve its media planning. “We can time our launches and other advertising events accordingly and reach out to the right set of consumers through cricket,” a senior Maruti Suzuki India executive said.

 

Similarly, electrical goods maker Havells India said it expects its advertisements to grab a large number of eyeballs when India plays against high-profile teams like Australia and England. “The amount of cricket that is going to be played is huge and we expect good return by investing in it,” said Vijay Narayan, vice-president of marketing at Havells India.

 

Media planners said the consolidation of major cricketing events on one platform enabled ESPN to work out such deals. “Earlier cricket was fragmented and different tournaments were being shown by different channels. Now that ESPN has all major events till March, it becomes easy for an advertiser to work out value-enhancing deals,” said Basabdutta Chowdhury, chief executive of Platinum Media, a division of media buying group Madison World. She said brands looking for a long-term association with cricket will consider such deals.

 

Source:The Economic Times

Copyright © 2012, Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All Rights Reserved

 

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