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Mumbai Siege: Crisis in Cricket

28-November-2008
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Mumbai Siege: Crisis in Cricket

The attacks in Mumbai on November 26, 2008, have created tremors in the cricketing world as well. The remaining two one-day internationals in the ongoing England’s tour of India have been called off. However, for now, the Test matches of the series are still on. So far, the two countries have played five ODIs, all of which have been won by India. The decision to call of the remaining two ODIs was taken jointly by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the English Cricket Board (ECB) and Nimbus.

exchange4media readers would recall that Neo Cricket, the cricket channel from the Nimbus group, had recently hiked its ad rates on the back of India’s performance that was generating good ratings for the series. The cancellation of two ODIs would surely convert to some loss for the channel. Abhishek Verma, Marketing and Communications Head, Neo Cricket, explained, “We do not lose from a cost standpoint, as according to our contract with the BCCI, we do not pay for the matches that are not aired.” Verma admitted that the channel would suffer on the additional revenue front that it could’ve made for these properties.

There may still be time for the Champions League T20 (CL T20), as it was scheduled to commence from December 3, 2008, but this series, too, has been postponed. Lalit Modi, Chairman, CL T20, said, “We held consultations with all the stakeholders after the unfortunate terrorist attacks in Mumbai on Wednesday night. It was agreed that in the best interests of all concerned, the inaugural edition of the Champions League T20 should be postponed.” The consultation was done among the three founding board members of the tournament – BCCI, Cricket Australia and Cricket South Africa. RC Venkateish, MD, ESPN Software India, added, “It is too early to be thinking about the tournament. The CL T20 administration as well as ESPN-STAR Sports will be monitoring the situation as it develops.”

At the same time, the Indian Cricket League has also called off the rest of its Season 2 ICL World Series tournament. Kiran More, ICL Executive Board member, said, “It is inappropriate to continue the series under the given circumstances.” The tournament was in its last leg in Ahmedabad when the terrorist attacks took place. Kapil Dev, Chairman, ICL Executive Board, added, “The teams have shown confidence in the ICL management and have supported the decision to call off the tour. In this hour of unprecedented tragedy in Mumbai, we would like to extend all our support to the citizens of India.”

‘Change in cricket plans not likely to have adverse effects’

According to media planners, the effects of the changes in the plan of action were not likely to have any adverse effects either on the broadcasters or the advertisers. One school of thought is that looking at the current situation, there is bound to be an understanding between every section, therefore, preventing any kind of loss.

Nikhil Rangnekar, Executive Director, West, Starcom Worldwide India, said, “The impact of these attacks on sports channels in terms of viewers or ratings will be short term. The calling off of the ODI matches may be a worry for broadcasters. However, from an advertiser standpoint, as long as the required viewers are coming in, there is no need to worry.”

Sanjay Sharma, GM, MediaCom India, observed, “Now that the last two of the India-England ODIs have been called off, and the CL T20 has been postponed, this may lead to some kind of revenue loss. That said, looking at the current situation the city, I believe everyone – broadcasters and advertisers – would be cooperating with each other, thus avoiding any kind of loss.”

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