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Olympics lose ad race to cricket

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Olympics lose ad race to cricket

Less than a month away from the biggest show on earth — Olympics, Indian corporates are determined not to stray from their first love — cricket. Revenue targets of the public broadcaster, Prasar Bharati, speak for themselves. While for a fortnight of the Athens Olympic Games, rights holder Prasar Bharati is expecting to make only Rs 10 crore in advertising revenues, the pubcaster is targeting double that amount (Rs 20 crore) just from four cricket matches in the Asia Cup tournament. This is despite ESPN-Star Sports holding the rights to Asia Cup, and Prasar Bharati getting to air only four matches on a revenue-sharing basis.

The bottom line is that Doordarshan and All India Radio, which are controlled by Prasar Bharati, may eventually lose around Rs 16 crore, having paid Rs 26 crore for acquiring the rights to a wide range of Olympic events and highlight packages for the India market. In contrast, DD would get to keep some portion out of its Asia Cup ad earnings, without paying a penny for acquisition of some key matches.

Prasar Bharati CEO K S Sarma admits that Olympics is not a money churner for the state broadcaster. The ideal target should have been Rs 26 crore (at least equivalent to the spend), he says. But, Mr Sarma offers a comparison for comfort: The Sydney Olympics (2000), when DD Sports was turned into a pay channel, fetched only Rs 1 crore worth of ad revenues for the public broadcaster!

As for advertisers, another upcoming cricketing series—Holland Cup—is also keeping them on toes. In fact, the next six months are being seen as a cricketing season, where all the advertising money could be routed.

So, while internationally, Olympics translates into billions of dollars in media advertising, it’s not quite so for India Inc, as Starcom executive director Anita Nayyar points out. But, according to Ms Nayyar, a media strategist, mass brands and those trying to hit the mass markets, for example, would like to exploit the DD platform during the Olympics, says Ms Nayyar.

On her part, Prasar Bharati director marketing Vijaya Laxmi Chhabra argues that things hot up only a few days before the event. “August 13 (Olympics opening day) is still far,” Ms Chhabra says, backing up the DD marketing effort. So far, ad space worth only Rs 4 crore has been booked on DD for the Olympics. While Indian Oil is the presenting sponsor, Hero and Samsung are the associate sponsors.

Although Athens may be somewhat better than Sydney for DD, cricket is never quite far. Mindshare India MD Ashutosh Srivastava says: “In India, Olympics is never big. Cricket definitely rules here.” He reasons that Olympic Games don’t offer a huge value to advertisers.

However, Ms Nayyar claims that despite the odds, interest level in the Olympics has gone up among the Indians. But, hold on, Olympics is still a mini-metro phenomenon in India, the media strategist adds. Interestingly, according to an AIR representative, “people tend to forget Olympics because it comes once in four years, while cricket is around us all the time”.

For sport broadcasters without the rights to the Games, Olympics is not a big driver for ads, but they too have supporting programmes on Olympics during the Games. ESPN, for instance has Golden Moments, Olympic Century and Road to Glory, among others. Ten Sports, too, has programmes related to Olympics. “It’s a value-added service for our viewers,” as a Ten Sports official says. For moolah, it’s got be cricket.


Kranti Gada joined the family business at Shemaroo in 2006 after a successful stint of over two years in marketing at Pepsi Co. She has been associated with the company for 12 years.

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