Is the form of Dhoni & Co keeping advertisers at bay?

10 Feb,2015

 

By A Correspondent

 

Is the Indian team’s cricketing form a worry for advertisers? We spoke to a few sports marketing specialists and this is their analysis: While the likelihood of India entering the quarter-finals is very high,    let’s take a close at look at the India fixtures and the time at which each of them is going to be aired (all timings in Indian Standard Time).

 

Sun, Feb 15 v/s Pakistan, 9am

Sun, Feb 22 v/s South Africa, 9am

Sat, Feb 28, v/s UAE, 12 noon

Fri, Mar 06  v/s West Indies, 12 noon

Tue, Mar 10  v/s Ireland, 6.30am

Sat, Mar 14  v/s Zimbabwe, 6.30am

 

The first two matches will have much bearing on how India fares in the Cup. While the UAE and Ireland matches are India’s unless there is a major upset, the West Indies and Zimbabwe could not be taken too lightly. The last two matches start at 6.30am on Tuesday and Saturday so could see a beating in viewership and Feb 28 is Budget Day and will clash with Finance Arun Jaitley’s speech.

 

And this is how the last seven fixtures are scheduled:

Quarter-finals 1-3 March 18-20, 9am

Quarter-final 4 March 21, 6.30am

Semi-final 1 March 24, 6.30am

Semi-final 2 March 26, 9am

Final: March 29, 9am

 

The likelihood of India reaching the quarter-finals is a near-certainty unless there are some major upsets, the likes of which we have seen in the group. But India has to play really badly to make way for the UAE, Ireland and Zimbabwe in the final four.

 

Is India in really bad form? Could the performance of Dhoni & Co in the recent past have been caused due to some experimenting with the mix of the team?

 

So what explains the lukewarm interest in the Cup? That’s more because every advertiser and media agency wants to beat the broadcaster on ad rates, which some advertisers told us was on the higher side. The later you sign up, the better the negotiations.

 

Image: Nike publicity material of the unveiling of tge One Day International kit that the Indian Cricket team was to starting January 18 in Australia

 

Rs 25 lakh for 10 seconds?!
 

Ads get expensive as Star India seeks Rs 25 lakh for 10-sec slots during India-Pak ICC World Cup tie

 

By Ravi Teja Sharma & Pritha Mitra Dasgupta

 

Diehard cricket fans will remember the memorable India-Pakistan battles of the past World Cups. The tense standoff in Bangalore in 1996 when Ajay Jadeja went on a rampage and Venkatesh Prasad showed Aamir Sohail the way to the pavilion after sending his stumps clattering; that glorious Saturday seven years later in Centurion Park when fiery Shoaib Akhtar’s missiles were smacked by Sachin Tendulkar to all parts of the stadium, in the process delivering a huge win for India and a big confidence boost after a demoralising loss to Australia early in the tournament.

 

This World Cup, the old enemies meet again. Not in the final as many fans would hope for or in the semi-finals like in 2011, but in the opening league match on February 15.

 

Well ahead of that epic India-Pakistan encounter, a different kind of a battle is being fought behind the scenes. On one side are the advertisers who want to exploit the big viewership numbers that this match promises to deliver, and sitting tight on the other is Star India, the official broadcaster, who wants to milk the match by jacking up the advertising rates.

 

More than 70 brands, including some regional brands and first-time advertisers, have booked slots for the game, which is 50% more than the count for 2011 World Cup final, said a spokesperson for Star India. At Rs 25 lakh per 10 seconds, this is going to be the most expensive advertising opportunity ever in cricket, but one that not many advertisers would want to miss. The match will see Amitabh Bachchan making his debut as commentator.

 

Star India had sold the match between the two nations in the 2011 edition – the semi-finals – at Rs 20 lakh per 10 seconds but the final between India and Sri Lanka had come close to Rs 25 lakh per 10 seconds. “From a business and brand perspective, very few events can match the potential of an India-Pakistan match. I can understand paying a premium for this match, but Rs 25 lakh is too steep,” said Basabdatta Chowdhuri, chief executive at Platinum Media, which is part of the Madison Media Group.

 

Media planners and agencies contest that number. According to them, Star has sold around 75% of its inventory for the India-Pakistan match and about 70% for the entire World Cup so far.

 

Clearly, Star India is going for the kill, seeking Rs 25 lakh per 10 seconds from those who want to advertise across all its feeds during this match, according to people in the know. But top advertisers and media planners say they would rather wait and watch, as they feel prices will dip closer to the game

 

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a senior executive at a large advertiser said there is enough inventory available at the moment and they are waiting for rates, even for the India-Pakistan match, to correct closer to the tournament beginning

 

A spokesperson for Star India said the ad slots for the match have been sold out much in advance.

 

“No other game of cricket draws as much passion, emotion and following as an India versus Pakistan World Cup game,” he said.

 

The channel has packaged the India-Pakistan match in several ways. There are advertisers who have bought combined airtimes across several matches, including the most talked-about match. For them, though, the average airtime rate is working out to between Rs  4.5 lakh and Rs 5 lakh per 10 seconds. Floating inventory for the match, however, have been categorised and priced according to the feeds.

 

An advertiser that wants all the feeds including English, Hindi, South Indian feeds and high definition will have to pay Rs 25 lakh per 10 seconds. This means an advertising spot of 30-40 seconds would cost anywhere between Rs 75 lakh and Rs 1 crore. If an advertiser wants only English and HD feed, then it will have to pay Rs16-18 lakh per 10 seconds.

 

“This is by far the highest rate that has ever been charged for a cricket match by a channel and I think it is a huge risk for advertisers,” said a top GroupM official, who didn’t wished to be named.

 

Another media planner from the Dentsu Aegis Network said it doesn’t make sense for an advertiser to pay this kind of money when there is enough cricket happening in the country with both ICC and IPL matches.

 

According to Indranil Das Blah, chief operating officer of sports management firm Kwan, this is undoubtedly the most high-profile match of this World Cup. “I don’t know if the ad rates are justified or not, but it can’t get bigger than this and no advertisers would risk missing it,” said Blah.

 

For the larger World Cup, though, Star has signed up the likes of Sony, Airtel, Gaana.com, Hero and Karbonn as sponsors, alongside Maruti, Nestle, Raymonds, Marico, Pidilite, Yepme-.com and Paytm. To cater to a wider audience, it is broadcasting the tournament in Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada and Bengali alongside Hindi and English that it hopes will bring in a large number of new advertisers to the World Cup as it will become more affordable for smaller advertisers.

 

But media planners say there is some level of concern around the Indian team’s performance as well and also the timing of the matches, but these concerns will not matter if India begin the World Cup journey with a big win over Pakistan.

 

 

 

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