India may not be playing in the FIFA World Cup tournament, beginning in Germany from June 9, 2006, but Indians’ craze for the game is as palpable as, say the Brazilians or Germans.
This fact was corroborated by FIFA President, Sepp Blatter, who said that nearly 100 million Indians were expected to watch the 2006 World Cup action Live on their TV sets, undoubtedly a significant chunk of the 32.5 billion people worldwide expected to be glued to their TV sets for the World Cup action. Quite a huge captive audience for brands out to gain the maximum mileage, given the ideal platform that the mega FIFA event offers.
Blatter pointed out that previous FIFA World Cup in 2002 had attracted a global audience of 28.8 billion, of which 75 million were Indians. The 2002 FIFA World Cup put soccer in a different league, garnering ratings as high as 9.1 TVRs (among males, 15+, SEC A, B & C, C&S households). This is comparable to top performing soaps and cricket ODIs.
Said Blatter, “I am very pleasantly surprised at the huge interest in soccer in a cricket crazy nation like India. It is the glory of the soccer World Cup, which has transcended, like in other countries, over language and sports barriers. In addition, ESPN-STAR Sports’ programming initiatives and the special effort to telecast the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Hindi will further increase viewership.”
Speaking on the World Cup initiatives, RC Venkateish, Managing Director, ESPN Software India Pvt Ltd, said, “ESPN-STAR Sports continues to make efforts to excite and involve consumers for the FIFA World Cup. We have been building the football fever and would have showcased more than 200 hours of World Cup related programming by the time we reach June 9. Our interactive marketing campaign continues to roll out to involve the viewers.”
He further said, ”We are confident that our telecast of the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Hindi will entertain viewers and help us in penetrating new markets for soccer. We expect to transfer and retain viewers to our Hindi telecast of the English Premier League after the World Cup.”
Meanwhile, advertisers are gearing up to gain maximum mileage out of this mega event. The advertisers who have bought slots on ESPN-STAR Sports include Airtel, Coca-Cola, IOCL, Adidas, Maruti, HDFC Standard Life, Onida (Mirc), Motorola, Samsung and Hero Honda, among others. The rates that these advertisers paid for 10-second spots range from Rs 80,000 to Rs 1 lakh.