The most spoken about One Day International in recent times – the South Africa vs Australia aired on ESPN on March 12, 2006 – saw eight records tumble and needless to say one of the highest TVR for a non-India cricket match. However, an important learning that comes from the match, when observed closely is the magic that word of mouth (WoM) and the viral medium can create.
Looking at numbers alone, TAM Media Research shows that the match delivered a TRP of 1.6 for the C&S 15 + in the All India market. For the target, C&S male ABC 25 +, the number is at 1.9. A further break up shows that while the first half of the match, from 1.26 pm to 5.27 pm rated a 0.71, the second half that was from 5.43 to 10.03 pm was at 2.51 for the mass TG and 3.1 for the male TG.
In sheer numbers, this is one of the best seen. CVL Srinivas, CEO, Maxus, said, “These are good numbers for a non-India match.” Agreeing with him, Manish Porwal, Executive Director, Starcom Worldwide, India-West, said, “This is probably one of the highest that a non-India cricket match has ever delivered.” According to Nandini Dias, Vice-President, Lodestar Media, “At an average, you see a good non-India cricket match, which has two good teams playing, deliver anything between a 0.5 to a 0.8 – by that, these are great numbers.”
Sure is a thumbs-up all the way for this match. When the TRPs are seen closely, the numbers increase with every hour. In the mentioned male TG, the channel share moves from 1.4 per cent (from 1.26 pm to 2.26 pm) and 2.74 (2.26 pm to 3.26 pm) in the first two hours to 6.46 (5.43 pm to 6.43 pm), 12.43 (6.43 pm to 7.43 pm), 16.35 (7.43 pm to 8.43 pm) to a whopping 20.92 per cent (8.43 to 9.43 pm), the final twenty minutes hogging a 13.98 per cent of all India television viewership. In the final one and a half hours, the match saw TRPs as high as 5.36 and 3.74.
Is this an indication of the rise on non-India cricket? “This is one of those rare and great matches, so I wouldn’t say so just yet” said Dias. Her point of view, based on a recent study that Lodestar Media embarked on, is that a sports buff spends a certain amount of time on sports channels in any case.
But when it comes to India cricket, it is a phenomenon of community watching than just sports fan watching. Porwal seconded this point on non-India cricket and delved further on this increase in numbers with every passing hour. He said, “No doubt this was a fantastic match but there are those also who are content knowing the scores on just radio or maybe the Internet. This match garnered reach as well and this just shows the connectivity of the viewer today.”
A tough match managed to retained audience interest and both viral mediums and WoM added more to the viewership. Srinivas commented, “Most of the build of this match happened by WoM and viral media today, but there is a lesson here for channels. We are living in an age where real time programme promotion is possible based on these mediums and this match shows that.”
“It is a great example of viral marketing,” Dias said, adding, “It took just one person to be at home or in office watching the match and lead to this kind of addition in viewers! This is an example of how hype can be built when an event is actually happening and without any use of mass media, except for whatever was seen on news channels. But apart from that, this was completely people SMSing each other, calling each other and sheer WoM that created community viewing and hence gave the match these kinds of numbers.”
“Just as you see in news channels at the time of riots or a disaster or any other high community interest new, this is a clear indication that WoM and viral medium are real and great tools today and you will see that consequently numbers in metros are higher,” Porwal said. TAM Media Research indicates that numbers of metros are higher than the all India numbers for the mass and male TG.
Industry leaders are clear that the build up of the match and the resulting trends in ratings are a clear indication about the efficacy of mass media but they are in no hurry to call this the emergence of non-India cricket. The channel, thrilled as they are with these numbers, however does believe that this match is an indication that non-India cricket can be accepted well by the Indian audience.
Sanjay Kailash, Vice President, Ad Sales & Business Development, ESPN Software India Pvt Ltd, said, “Popularity of non-India cricket, that is cricket played between countries besides India, is on the rise. This is because of the coming of age of the Indian audience's appreciation for sports in general and cricket specifically. Increasing competition, old rivalries, emergence of new rivalries, general buzz around cricketers and most definitely continued efforts by ESPN-STAR Sports have helped to increase the popularity and have led to a subsequent increase in viewer ship for NIC.”