After a dismal performance of the Indian cricket team in 2007, the first look at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 layout was encouraging for advertisers. The spread of the matches and the inclusion of more teams ensured that not only was India playing in larger number of matches, but would also stay on in the World Cup for a longer period of time.
The first match against Bangladesh had advertisers and media planners excited with the numbers. The tie against England had some more good ratings to show. But India-Ireland and India-Netherland matches turned out to be the so-called blessings in disguise. Many had expected India to whiz past the two matches and then really get into the tough one with South Africa. Not too many were expecting these two matches to rate very high.
India’s weak performance in the matches against Ireland and Netherland, however, ensured a full 100-over match and audience interest till the very end. Data from TAM Sports vindicates the interest in the numbers of India-Ireland match, the six-metro data of which was released late last week. The good thing for these two matches was a win at the end, not something that India managed in the match against South Africa on March 12, 2011. But, for media observers, the ratings expectation from the India-South Africa match is higher than anything seen so far.
India may not be on its strongest wicket, but as far as the ratings are concerned, so far, advertisers have nothing to complain about.
India Matches: Of Exceeding Expectations
Pratap Bose, CEO, Mudra Max, asserted that the ratings so far had been “higher than expected”. He added, “An average TVR of 9 and 12, respectively, for India-Bangladesh and India-England conveys the addiction of the Indian public.”
Addiction indeed: TAM Sports data shows that right from the opening match of India-Bangladesh, the audience interest in the matches have only increased till India-Ireland. The ratings of India-Netherland (March 9, 2011) and India-South Africa (March 12, 2011) have not been released as yet, but media observers have predicted a high number for these matches – India-SA expected to be the highest of the matches played so far.
Havas Media, CEO-India & South Asia, Anita Nayyar, pointed out, “India side has shown strength in the early batting order, but middle order has not been so strong. Bowling and fielding both seem to be very average and not of World Cup quality.”
And R Gowthaman, Leader, Mindshare South Asia, explained how India’s weak performance was one of the reasons for the high numbers. He said, “The complete match was played and there was winning uncertainty till the end. While that is bad for the sport, it turned to be good for advertisers from both audience aggregation and inventory supply viewpoints.”
“The India matches, in fact, over-delivered,” said Kartik Iyer, CEO, Carat Media. A point agreed and explained further by NP Sathyamurthy, CEO, Karishma Initiative, who stated, “India matches have given an average TVR of 10-plus. With the India versus South Africa match, this average should go up further. If one goes by ‘peak ratings’, it is evident that this year’s World Cup has been viewed with much higher interest levels than in 2007. In our estimations, this interest level would continue till March 20, 2011, when India plays West Indies.”
All eyes are on the India-West Indies match, as that would be a deciding factor on whether India continues at the Quarter finals. But much also depends on how some of the other teams are performing. Though non-India matches have been slow on the ratings front, from here on, expectations from some of the non-India matches are also high.
Non-India matches: Higher expectations ahead
The non-India matches of the ICC Cricket World Cup have been as low on numbers as expected, but the jury, as they say, is still out. Giving a sense of one section of the industry, Carat Media’s Kartik Iyer said, “The performance of the non-India matches are of concern. Considering that larger number of matches are the non-India ones, the under delivery on this front could significantly reduce the overall effectiveness of the buy.”
On the other hand, NP Sathyamurthy is from the section that believes that the non-India matches have performed to the expected levels of viewership. For example, in 2007 the average TVR of non-India matches were in the region of 1.3 TVRs. In 2011, so far the average is in the similar range, hence not a surprise.
Mudra Max’s Pratap Bose explained, “Big ticket non-India matches – Pakistan versus Bangladesh (3.1 TVR), England versus Ireland (2.3 TVR) – demonstrate viewers’ interest in good quality encounters. With more of high octane matches scheduled as the event moves into the Quarter Final stages, the average TVR of non-India matches will show a significant up swing.”
But India’s performance will impact the forthcoming non-India matches as well. Now that the inclusion of India in the Quarter Finals is dependent on how some of the other teams are performing, such as Bangladesh and England, the non-India matches of Group B specifically would be viewed with interest. According to G’Man, “The base rating for non-India matches would go higher, and one can once again credit the way the Indian team is playing for this.”
Unlike 2007, irrespective of India’s performance, the India matches are scheduled till the 42nd match of the tournament. This was not the case in 2007, when the India matches were completed by the 20th match. Citing this, NP Sathyamurthy said, “Indian audiences will continue to watch 2011 ICC WC and hence, the average non-India match TVR will be around ‘2’, which is a very healthy number compared to 2007.”
The Good Deal
The common conversation around the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 is that it has proved to be a good deal for the advertisers. Whether it was by design that the ICC panned out the matches in the manner that it did, or whether it was the previous World Cup’s experience that ESPN Star Sports decided to work out plans where India matches were included in most advertiser deals, but in all, this meant a good pitch for the advertisers – a pitch that advertisers took advantage of.
In India, cricket commands a premium pricing, and this being the World Cup, prices were a little on the higher side. However, given the ratings garnered by the India matches and strong non-India matches lined up, it has been an overall good deal for the sponsors. If the Indian team performs now, ICC CWC 2011 can be one of the most successful World Cups for advertisers.
G’Man cautioned here that the cost per rating points (CPRPs) were not as competitive as one had been experiencing with the Indian Premier League (IPL), but it was definitely better than what people had planned for.
Even as Sathyamurthy, too, takes the cautious route, he pointed out, “One cannot conclusively state that now. However, given the progress so far, it should turn out to be a real ‘value for money’ and impactful investment for most advertisers.”
Though this is true for sponsors, the deal was not so good for last minute spot buyers. As the match results are getting published, the broadcasters are also pro-rata adjusting their pricing, upwards.
Bose said, “For an event like Cricket World Cup, and that too being played in India, last minute spot buys come at a high premium as a major slice of the FCT is sold much before the event kicks off.”
Cricket is the one debate that will stay alive in India for long in context to it being a media platform. Even as the ICC CWC 2011 has done well on numbers so far, India’s performance is definitely not getting the best of press. This is one important aspect that keeps the cricket-efficiency debate alive. Should advertisers be worried with India’s current performance? Apparently, one would know when India faces West Indies on March 20, 2011. For now, they have just kept their fingers crossed.