In Indian cricket, broadcasting experts and advertisers have regularly been vocal about the fact that the business here is run by the ‘on-ground’ sport and not much depends upon which channel is broadcasting the cricket series. Cricket is immensely followed throughout the country and therefore, for any broadcaster, the battle is usually already won when he buys the broadcasting rights for a robust cricket series involving India.
The Indian cricket team is all set to start its tour of South Africa from December 5, 2013. TEN Sports is the official broadcaster for the series. According to the broadcaster, 90 per cent of the inventory has already been sold. The broadcaster from today has hiked its inventory cost by 19 per cent for one-day matches and by 28 per cent for test matches.
In the Indian context, at a time when rival broadcaster Star Sports has completely revamped itself by investing huge amount of money and is trying to project itself as a broadcasting brand synonymous with sports in India, where does Brand TEN sports stand?
Rajesh Sethi, CEO, TEN Sports talks about the upcoming cricket series, the monetisation game and what the brand plans to achieve from the upcoming India-SA series.
Your competitor Star Sports has aggressively re-launched itself and has also bought stakes in a sport franchise. Where do you see TEN Sports as a sports broadcasting brand?
Each company has its own independent strategy. So I would not like to answer a question which is directly in contrast with what company ‘A’ or ‘B’ is doing. Each organisation has its own set of milestones to achieve and we have our own. We are going pretty strong in the direction we want to go.
In that case, what are your prime objectives for broadcasting the India – South Africa series?
It is fantastic content for our viewers. It is something that every avid cricket follower is looking forward to as it is a part of new era post Sachin Tendulkar. One might like to watch ‘Young Turks of Cricket’ like Shikhar Dhawan or Virat Kohli. These players are making their mark. This is match of pace versus skill because South African pitch is known for pace. So it is pure entertainment being offered at prime time as the match starts in the evening.
Prime objective for us therefore would be to build a strong viewership base. TEN has already in 100 million homes in India. It will be a continued commitment to bring quality content in India.
Cricket followers watch a match because of the game. They don’t bother on which channel it is being broadcasted. So how do you differentiate yourself as a brand? Are there any robust marketing initiatives that you have taken?
We have done extensive ATL and BTL activities when one talks about promoting the series. In addition to normal advertising which everyone does, we have utilised every media vehicle such as online, broadcast, print, OOH, social and radio. We have been conducting road shows in key metro cities. Today we are two days ahead of the match and we have already sold 90 per cent of our inventories. We have been pretty happy with the entire turnout.
Since cricket is a religion in India, selling inventories is not a very tough job as the viewership is mostly ensured when the opponent on-ground is tough. How do you counter that?
I don’t agree with that. We all are in game of monetisation. Obviously one needs to have strong content, viewership traction and strong delivery platform; based on that, monetisation happens. Monetisation is the outcome and not the journey. That outcome is automatically good when the content and the entire proposition one is bringing on the table is good enough. That is what is happening in our case. Therefore, the whole outcome part itself speaks for the quality.
What is the ballpark revenue figure you are expecting from of the series?
Only from ad sales perspective, we were targeting Rs 120 crore, and we have already achieved 90 per cent of it. Based on the demand and response we have got, from December 3, 2013, we are raising spot prices as well.
What will be the difference between the final inventory cost and current ones?
As of now, the average inventory cost is Rs 4.2 lakh for ODIs and Rs 1.25 lakh for test matches. From today, we are going to pitch Rs 5 lakh for ODIs and Rs 1.6 lakh for test matches.
Which brands are the prime sponsors for the series?
We have close to 13 sponsors as of now. Few of them are Tata Motors, ITC, Vodafone, Micromax, We Chat, etc.