Twelve teams are going to be battling out at the ICC Champions Trophy scheduled in England between September 10 and 25. With this latest addition to the cricket casket, Max is looking at positioning itself as a TRP leader, safe in the assurance of enhanced viewer interactivity and engagement.
To start off, Max has roped in an illustrious band cricketers to form its expert panel, led by brand ambassador Kapil Dev. Add to it, the small screen glamour girl Rakshanda Khan who would be in the show as a roving reporter. However, sponsors for the event are Maruti and Samsung, while the associate sponsors are Pepsi, Hero Honda, Hutch, LG, BPCL and Perfetti.
Says NP Singh, Business Head and CFO, Max, “We expect excellent viewership, enhanced reach and stronger distribution in case of the Champions Trophy. We would be leveraging the series to cross promote our forthcoming attractions, and to channelize the increase in viewership, towards the big titles (which would follow the ICC Trophy.) I think that the same would enable us to continue our market leadership as the country’s premium movies and events channel.”
There are various aspects that have been added to Extraa Innings, this time around. Extraa Innings would consist of a news segment by Mandira Bedi (which would update viewers on the key happenings), Voice of India (a question which would be thrown up by the panel to the viewers), mimicry sessions by Vikram Sathe, Kaptains Korner (where viewers would be asked to predict results), a segment called Superstitions (which would display the various superstitions of those associated with cricket) and Khel Kismat Ka (tarot card reading by Maa Prem Ritambhara.).
In addition, there would be India Tour (which would be a sneak peak at cricketers while they are on the nets, in the hotel room and so on.), Hawk Eye (segments that would highlight technical aspects to the game) and Fan Reactions.
With the new packaging and all the fun and the fervour, is the thin line between sports and general entertainment being gradually eroded? Says Singh, “As far as we are concerned, there was never a line between sports and general entertainment. When we had acquired the rights to all the ICC ODI Cricket beginning September 2002, and then the ICICI World Cup 2007, we were sure that we would tap the entertainment potential of cricket. Our strategy from the day one was to take the appeal of the passion called cricket, and make it interesting and entertaining enough for uninitiated viewers. Our objective was to give our viewers so much entertainment, that the otherwise ordinary cricket coverage (on the other channels) would fade in comparison.”
Referring to the Extraa Innings, he adds, “This show has truly expanded the appeal of the game, and with ICC Champions Trophy, we plan to take it still further.
Is it possible that India’s poor performance in the Natwest series, not to mention the rains, has dampened the spirits of the Indian public?
He answers, “ Now that the ICC Champions Trophy 2004 is here, expectations are high
and there is enormous excitement about the tournament. After all, the ICC Champions Trophy is the biggest and best ODI series anywhere in the World this year. Cricket lovers are definitely very excited, and I don't
think viewership for othe ICC Champions Trophy 2004 will at all be affected."
So what’s been the response from the media community? Are the ad spots already sold out? Singh asserts, “The response has been fantastic and yes, the spots were sold out a long time back. Except a few last-minute spots (for late buyers), which are currently being negotiated upon.”
As Max is buoyant about the proceedings on the cricket front, viewers have digested cricket like never before. Will the fascination for cricket, overpower the overwhelming TV fatigue amongst audiences? Well, the TRP’s will tell all.