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ICC CWC ’11: The real World Cup has begun now…

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ICC CWC ’11:  The real World Cup has begun now…

…Or so is the sentiment of the advertising industry.

As the Group B players – India, England, West Indies and Bangladesh – fight it out on who enters the Quarter Finals, the part of the World Cup, where even the non-India matches are of significance, has begun. On March 17, 2011, social media was filled with World Cup viewers’ comments on perhaps every ball, and as England neared its victory, the enthusiasm to see India-West Indies this weekend has increased too.

Till March 20, 2011, the ICC Cricket World Cup would be every advertiser’s dream due to the sheer interest level in each match, as there is still uncertainty on whether India would make it to the Quarter Finals. But with this, that part of the series, where advertiser’s best interests are dependent on Team India’s performance, has also begun.

Maxus India’s Managing Director Ajit Varghese put it aptly, when he said, “The buzz around the World Cup is peaking, and I would say the real world cup, in all its bigness, has begun only now.”

The “Shaky” India Performance
As is known, India’s weak performance, and hence making a match out of the so-called non-matches, such as India-Ireland and India-Netherlands, brought in better than expected viewer attention and hence ratings. While this turned out to be good for advertisers, India’s loss against South Africa raised a few questions. The first in the list is, should advertisers be worried about India’s shaky form that may lead it to be out of the World Cup Quarter Finals?

R Gowthaman, Leader, Mindshare South Asia, replied, “It would all depend on the India-West Indies match. If India does not perform well there, it is a concern for advertisers. In fact, the very equity of the sport would once again be questioned.”

There is no doubt for either advertisers or agencies that if India does not make it to the top eight teams, ICC Cricket World Cup, as a property, would still be disappointing to advertisers. The format and schedule of the games allowed a very positive first half for advertisers, but as media observers pointed out, when it is the World Cup, the expectations are, to win the Cup. Or at least make it to the Quarter Finals.

But courtesy World Cup 2007, advertisers and media agencies are prepared for India’s “unpredictable” performance. Anita Nayyar, CEO, Havas, South Asia said, “Cricket itself is most unpredictable and the “shaky” India performance is something all of us, including advertisers and agencies, do not rule out. Association with the World Cup has its own advantages given its bigness. The pools of teams have ensured there are adequate number of matches India gets to play, but who doesn’t hope India makes it in the big league and generates even further interest in the World Cup.”

Pessimisms and Predictions
NP Sathyamurthy, CEO, Karishma Initiative, explained that some advertisers started off with some pessimism to ensure that the disaster of 2007, at least for advertisers, was not repeated.

“Those who have invested in this World Cup based on ‘realistic and pessimistic’ estimates of viewership, will benefit from good visibility, cost effectively with impact. For example, our LMG/KI teams had estimated about sub-6 TVR for India matches, and sub-1 TVR for non-India matches, for the sake of pricing discussions with the broadcast partner. This is the basis on which we have made recommendations to our clients. This pessimistic estimate is essential, as the progress of the Indian team is unpredictable, as is the case with any other playing nation. Therefore, when India performs well, and I am sure we will, it is the icing on the cake for advertisers,” said Sathyamurthy.

Industry sources informed that ESPN Star Sports is likely to double its spot buy or costs of any other form of association, if India makes it to the top eight. exchange4media could not confirm this independently with ESPN Star Sports, but sources informed that this is the part of the series that ESPN has been waiting for with bated breath, to be able to recover its investments in the World Cup.

Pratap Bose, CEO, Mudra Max, is amongst those who is not in a hurry to challenge cricket as a platform, given the sport’s religious status in India. But he did predict, “While remaining India league matches will see an average TVR of 11-12, non-India matches will command an average TVR in the range of 2.2-2.4. The quarter finals will see an average TVR of 2.5-2.8 (non-India) and 13-13.6 (India).”

The heat on the game is definitely on. Why is cricket called a gamble – the part of the series that answers that question, is on right now.


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