No prizes for guessing where Indian advertisers, who have pumped in Rs 350-400 crore on television advertising for ICC World Cup Cricket, are cutting back on. Hindi general entertainment channels (GEC), including Star Plus, Sony and Zee TV, are feeling the Caribbean heat. Ad rates for these channels are expected to be discounted heavily even for prime time, according to sources. Though no broadcaster will admit to it, leading media buyers say they are already buying prime-time slots on GECs for 10-15 % discounts for the duration of the World Cup.
“Big ticket events always result in 25-30% drop in GEC shares and as a result they offer discounts. These discounts will go up to 30-35% as the tournament progresses,” says Meenakshi Madhvani, managing partner, Spatial Access, a media audit company. It's a double whammy of sorts for GEC: they are losing out on prime-time viewers due to the world cup telecast (7pm onwards), and on the other hand big advertisers in telecom, auto and consumer goods are already locked in with the official rights holder - Sony Entertainment Television - and Doordarshan.
During the last world cup in 2003, GECs had to offer up to 30% discounts to garner advertising as India progressed towards the finals. Though discounting by GECs is inevitable, they are trying to arrest revenue losses by slotting big-bang programming, essentially hit Hindi movies such as Don, Krissh and KANK, during the world cup. “We launched KBC III to specifically deal with the world cup challenge,” says Paritosh Joshi, president, advertising sales & distribution, Star India.
“There is only so much money going around. If advertisers have already book ads worth Rs 550 crore for cricket, there is very little left for others. GECs are hit harder than niche channels as they resort to discounts to attract clients,” says Rohit Gupta, EVP, ad sales and revenue management, SET Max.
Along with cutting prices, many GECs are going for upgrades and differential pricing for their clients. “During the world cup these channels upgrade almost a fifth of their advertisers to prime-time because unsold ad inventory,” says Sunder Raman, MD, Mindshare. And bearing the brunt of this the most would be the number two or three. “Most Indian households are single-TV homes, where cricket would be watched by men and also by women, by default. Therefore, GECs are bound to be hit. Relative strengths of GECs will dictate the discounts on each channel,” says Sandeep Goyal, CEO, Dentsu India.