Every once in a while cricket must raise the debate on whether it is a viable and reliable property for advertisers. And the recently concluded India’s tour of England, in the NatWest Series, was another such occasion. The series saw India play England in five one-day internationals, ending on September 16, 2011. In India, the matches were telecast on ESPN and Star Cricket.
Data from TAM Media Research shows that for the C&S 4+ in the all India market, the one-day international matches that India played have given ratings ranging from around 1 TVR to 2 TVR being the highest. The English feed, which was on ESPN, attracted more eyeballs than the Hindi feed on Star Cricket.
Ajay Kakar, CMO – Aditya Birla Financial Services, said, “Can't say that an advertiser would be delighted with such ratings. But it was affected by many factors ranging from the Indian team's performance to the rains to the match timings and the fact that the match was played on foreign shores.”
Debraj Tripathy, MD, MediaCom India, reiterated the sentiment and added, “Viewers had lost interest in this particular series and that has reflected in the ratings. India’s poor performance is obviously to blame.”
Viable or not, cricket is not a gamble the Indian advertising industry would give up on as easily. The silver lining for the industry from this is the expected affect this would have on the forthcoming India vs. England series that would be played in India in October 2011, which many are now calling the ‘Revenge Series’.
Prasana Krishnan, COO, Neo Sports Broadcast, observed, “The debacle of the NatWest series has created the perfect setting for the forthcoming India vs. England matches in India, and there is no doubt in our minds that this would be one of the most watched out for series. Most of the key players from the India team had dropped out, and everyone would be back for the next match in full strength. It would be the return series for each of these players.”
Tripathy stated, “While it is true that advertisers who had invested in the NatWest series were not able to get their money’s worth, what this series does is that it builds up huge interest for the England trip to India in the next few months. Advertisers and agencies will definitely watch the forthcoming series closely.”
Neo Sports, too, is leaving no stone unturned in upping the marketing around the series. Earlier this week, the channel broke the campaign around the series. Capturing the ‘revenge’ mood, Neo Sports has dubbed the tournament as Payback Series. According to Krishnan, that sets the tone for the communication one is going to see around the series.
Krishnan added, “We are going 360-degree for this, and the campaign would be seen across all media from television to Internet. While the campaign has already been broken, it would pick up steam only towards the end.”
It is understood that Neo Sports has gone to the market asking effective rates in the region of Rs 400,000-450,000 per 10 seconds.
Kakar perhaps sums it best when he said, “Cricket still rules. And it's just a matter of time. The India-England series in India should attract better eyeballs. Now if only India plays well and wins, happy days will be back again.”