While the glamour of associating with a mega event like World Cup Cricket (WCC) on Set MAX is unparalleled, key advertisers in the country are not signing the cheque, just yet. Most are waiting for the ad packages to come down, and a few are evaluating the other options that competing channels, ESPN-SS, DD and to some extent, Ten Sports have suddenly thrown up.
Media analysts argue that the current ad packages announced by MAX, are significantly higher than their expectations. A key package, announced recently for presenting Sponsorship of World Cup Cricket and ICC Champions Trophy has a whopping Rs 35 crore price tag. This entitles the brand to ‘present’ both WCC and ICC Champions Trophy, with 10 spots of 30 seconds in each of 15 ODIs of Champions Trophy and 54 ODI of World Cup live matches, besides a host of ‘bonus’ values.
And media buyers find this too high. Most media buyers and clients have benchmarked ad packages on two parameters; deals struck for last world cup and CPRP benchmarks for other competing options, on cricket or otherwise. Sources share that similar opportunity on last World Cup was negotiated down to less than a third of current package.
But recent recognition for their brand ambassador, Kapil Dev and a fantastic ODI victory by Indian team at Lords might be the shot in the arm that Sony was looking for. With Kapil Dev getting the honor of ‘The Greatest Indian Cricketer of the Century’, Sony’s game plan is to widen the viewership base of cricket and hence justify the high pricing. Says Rajat Jain, VP, SetMAX, “We have identified three psychographic definitions of cricket viewers; Purist or Hardcore viewer (about 10-15% of total audience only), casual viewer whose focus is on India’s games and come in and out of the matches and ‘the uninitiated’ who are predominantly females, not really interested in the details of the game. Kapil Dev will assist Sony in every way to increase awareness about the World Cup telecast as well as increase viewer involvement for cricket fans, especially amongst casual viewers and the uninitiated.”
While the strategy may appear sound, not everybody is convinced. According to market sources, none of the 7 key sponsorships (1 presenting sponsor and 6 associates) have been signed yet. Large advertisers like ‘Global partner’ Pepsi and ‘sponsor’ Hero Honda are currently busy negotiating the deals even as the broadcaster is trying to put pressure by giving ultimatums. As per the ICC contract, the broadcaster needs to first approach the Global Partners and Sponsors for selling on air entitlements and only on rejection can the broadcaster approach other potential advertisers.
And even as Sony tries to convince the potential advertisers, ESPN SS day before yesterday announced acquisition of all cricket emanating from Australia, South Africa, England, New Zealand and Zimbabwe from 2003 to 2007. DD has also acquired terrestrial rights to all India matches along with Semi Finals and the Final of World Cup Cricket.
But the glamour of associating with World Cup Cricket is certainly huge. And Sony is banking heavily on it. “We are currently in discussions with several key companies for advertising packages and spots. However, it is too early to reveal the names of our sponsors and advertisers,” says a cautious Rajat Jain. And with so much (US$ 255 million to be precise!) at stake, Sony will keep its fingers crossed.