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ICC CWC'11: India-Pak – Expensive or Sensible Buy?

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ICC CWC'11:  India-Pak – Expensive or Sensible Buy?

The day of reckoning is nearly here. After months of anticipation, leaps of faith, nerve wracking risks and loosened purse strings, those who put their bets on the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 being the biggest marketing cake of recent years are inching closer to rake in the benefits. Team India has made it to the most crucial leg of the tournament, the knockout do-or-die match with none other than team Pakistan. Needless to say, the advertising fraternity has been extraordinarily busy.

Expectations and More
Leaders from the media service brands side of the business did not shy away from expressing their ratings expectations from the match. Mindshare South Asia’s Leader R Gowthaman clarified that he was not Nostradamus, but he was expecting the peak rating to be as high as the India-England match at 30 TVR and an average of 12+. G’Man was clearly a lot more on the conservative side than some of the other media agency heads.

MEC India’s MD T Gangadhar, for instance, predicted anything between 15 and 20 TVR for the India-Pak match. He explained, “The India-England match did an almost 13, from that perspective, if it’s a keenly contested game, a rating of 15-20 TVR can be expected. All indications point out to such a level of ratings given it is a semi-final and a knockout match.”

“15” was the “sure-shot” TVR for Pratap Bose, CEO, Mudra Max, as well. He said, “20 TVR may be pushing it a bit far, but for an India-Pakistan, a 17-18 TVR is what I would expect.”

A 17-18 TVR is what OMD India’s Managing Partner Harish Shriyan is also predicting. Shriyan pointed out, “This match should rate at least 15-20 per cent higher than the best match we have seen. In this case so far, it was India-England, which was almost a 13 TVR, so a 17-18 TVR would be the right rating.”

If 15 TVR is on the inside, the other extreme of expectation is 24 TVR.

Mona Jain, COO, VivaKi Exchange, elaborated on why 24 was not such an impossible number. She said, “This being the last leg of the tournament, advertisers are paying a premium, depending on whether they can afford it or not. We have queries coming in to identify one particular day or match where the maximum value can be extracted. In terms of ratings, India-Pakistan match pulled in a rating as high as 24 TVR in the Samsung Cup in 2004. Something similar may be expected considering the media buzz around the World Cup with the world travelling to see the match. You can see the excitement, where many are planning to skip office or go sit at a pub and watch the match.”

Expensive or Efficient?
And ESPN Star Sports knows this only too well. ESPN Star Sports officials have stated that the network has “considerably increased the ad rates of the World Cup since its start”. No surprises there, since that is true for any good game and the ICC World Cup, so far, has been a dream game for advertisers and media agencies, who invested in it. As any broadcaster, ESPN Star Sports held back nearly 10 per cent of the inventory for this leg of the game, and now as advertiser interest has increased, so have the ad rates.

The current outlay includes Rs 35 lakh for 10 seconds if an advertiser wanted to get in both semi-finals and the final matches. Rs 21-22 lakh for 10 seconds is the pricing if only the semi-finals were required. And Rs 17-18 lakh is the asking price for the India-Pakistan match.

In television history, these are some of the highest bid numbers. But there are those who think so much was only expected.

To put things in perspective, when media service brands and advertisers began the ICC World Cup planning, for various media agencies, the thought process was that with the Indian Premier League (IPL) rating an average of 4-5 TVR for match, the assumption from the ICC World Cup matches was 5-6 TVR at an average. ESPN Star Sports’ initial pricing was Rs 3-4 lakh per 10 seconds for a match.

But India-England, India-Ireland and India-Netherland numbers made the deal efficient and advertisers were seeing a CPRP (cost per rating point) of Rs 70,000, at an average.

By the time these matches were taking place, ESPN Star Sports had already taken its numbers up to Rs 7-8 lakh per 10 seconds.

A senior media agency head explained, “If you take into account how this tournament has panned so far, both in ad rates and ratings, even if India-Pakistan would rate 14 TVR, the CPRP would be around Rs 120,000.”

Nandini Dias, COO, Lodestar UM, added here, “India-Pakistan is the biggest of them all. I guess one would expect ESPN Star Sports to charge premium on the current ad rates. Cricket is at a premium compared to other programmes. So, compared to the beginning of the series, one would expect to pay a 25 per cent premium for a match like this. So, the pricing of this stage, for people who want to get on the bandwagon now, is alright. But, like anything else, this has to be viewed in entirety. With this kind of pricing, one is speaking of huge cash outflow for a single day.”

The Sensible Buy? 
Media observers indicate that for any advertiser to make their presence felt during the match, an outflow of around Rs 3 crore is estimated.
Dias explained further, “Given the sheer outflow, this would be an opportunity only for a brand that needs to make an impact – maybe a launch announcement or some message that needs instant awareness and high reach. You can begin with India-Pakistan and have a high decibel campaign before IPL starts.  But for a continuation campaign, it may not give the same kind of results.”

Pratap Bose, on the other hand, questioned the sensibility of the buy completely from a different view. He said, “It is not just about the high number of people that the match will attract, but you also have to see the overall environment and the viewers’ state of mind. We are speaking of a high-adrenalin, passion-ridden viewer for a match like this. And I am not sure that realistically that is good for the advertiser.”

But Bose, too, admitted that this was another scenario of to each advertiser his own. Shriyan added to this view and elaborated, “It really depends on the advertiser. In a sense, it is an opportunity and it remains up to the advertiser to make the most of what is presented to him through this match – whether they want to pay this kind of money.”

Quoting India’s Captain MS Dhoni, “does it get better than this?” Match in Mohali, India, against Pakistan in a semi-final and for the optimists, inches close to repeating the 1983 feat. The one game for which fans wait for years, and advertisers wait longer, is here. Not too many are thinking whether it is a sensible buy, they would like to be in.

(Inputs from Fatema Rajkotwala)


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