Sports genre did well in 2011 with the ICC Cricket World Cup being the biggest highlight. The genre garnered a share of 3.46 per cent as per TAM Media Research data, going up from a little below 3 per cent genre share in 2010. The average daily time spent on the sports genre during the year was five minutes and five seconds.
India winning all the important matches and beating Australia in the quarter-finals of the World Cup, Pakistan in the semi-finals and then going on to make the history in the finals definitely brought in a lot of television ratings. India’s victory at every stage determined the channel’s likelihood to sell advertising space for a premium price. Neo Cricket also cashed in during the One Day Internationals (ODI) home series against England, where India beat them 5-0 and also went on to beat the West Indies in the same format of the game. However, Ten Cricket didn’t meet with much success.
Commenting on the highlights for sports genre in the year 2011, Prasana Krishnan, COO, Neo Sports, said, “This year saw people talking about other sports like World Series Hockey and badminton, which will also continue in 2012.”
Adding further on the growth of the genre, Krishnan said. “The year 2011 has been very good for sports. First part of the year saw very good growth, but the second half has been more subdued. Overall growth in the first half has been there because of the ICC Cricket World Cup and Indian Premier League (IPL), and the advertising revenues that have been at an all time high. Close to Rs 2,500 crore would have been spent on ads in 2011.”
In general, the year 2011 saw a lot of ups and downs for the Indian cricket team. Statistics show that after the World Cup, there has been loss in viewership for the game as India lost 4-0 to England in the Test series. If the Indian cricket continues with the losses, viewership and advertising revenues would both go down, which is what happened in the second half of 2011.
According to TAM Media Research reports for the top ten sports channels of 2011, Star Cricket had the major chunk of television ratings mainly because of the ICC Cricket World Cup. ESPN and Star Sports had also aired the World Cup, with the latter having Hindi commentary. However, these two channels didn’t make it to the TAM charts for the year 2011.
Commenting on Star Cricket’s success over ESPN and Star Sports, Amin Lakhani , Principal Partner, Mindshare, said, “Star Cricket is their driver channel and they launched it only for cricket, so it is not surprising that it did well.” “The ratings are still relatively higher,” he added.
Agreeing with Lakhani on the point of Star Cricket doing well, Dinesh Rathore, VP, MediaVest, said, “It is not a surprise that Star Cricket did well. In terms of sports, cricket is the biggest. Star Cricket airs only Cricket, so it was bound to happen.”
Rathore further said, “Viewership changes according to India’s performance. As far as ratings are concerned, the number of matches has increased per series, so there is a decline in the ratings.”
On advertisers making good use of cricketing events
According to Lakhani, “Pepsi is the only brand which did a good job in 2011.”
Rathore added, “None of them made good use of the cricketing events. It would be Vodafone a bit during the World Cup with their ZooZoo ads.”
On innovations in sports channels that benefit advertisers
Lakhani remarked, “Sports channels are all about sports content, so there would be no innovations.”
On a similar note Rathore said that sports channels had limitations. “There is no scope of doing any innovations during the game of cricket as the advertising breaks are very short. When it comes to a reality show, you can show innovations by showing brands within the show, but in cricket it is impossible.”
On sports genre being property driven
Lakhani felt that content was the most important thing for a sports channel and then came the distribution.
“The sports genre is completely property and content driven. If ICC Cricket World Cup and IPL rights go to SET Max, then people are going to watch that channel,” Rathore noted.