An India-Pakistan cricket match always generates keen fervour and the current IOC Cup series is no different. The first set of ratings for the series have come in and there is good news for Neo Sports, at least from the connectivity point of view for the channel. As was seen in the India-Australia series held in October 2007, Neo Sports was contributing lesser than 30 per cent of the total C&S ratings that were coming from the series, while DD1 had far more numbers to its credit.
Neo Sports officials have spoken about the initiatives of ramping the distribution of the channel in the recent past, and the numbers of the first two matches would bring some relief to the channel. Where DD1 has delivered 3.88 for the C&S 15+ in the all India market for the match played on November 5, Neo Sports has 2.16 TRPs in total. For the second match played on November 8, DD has delivered a TRP of 6, while Neo Sports has 3.4.
If the TG C&S 15+ ABC male is seen, DD1 has a TRP of 4.71, while Neo Sports has 2.87 for the first match. For the second match, the number is at 6.87 for DD and 4.3 for Neo Sports. Clearly, Neo Sports is still lagging behind DD in terms of numbers. However, the numbers are still encouraging for the channel. Shashi Kalathil, CEO, Neo Sports, explained why. He said, “When we started the series with the India-Australia matches, we were registering 25 per cent of TRPs. Today, we are about 63 per cent of TRPs. In essence, our contribution has more than doubled.”
“If you looked at the higher SECs and the bigger markets, we are equal to Doordarshan. Both TAM data and aMap show increase in our connectivity, and through the series, I believe that we would be contributing over two-thirds of DD,” said Kalathil. Neo Sports had faced significant problems since the numbers were not on their side, and the decision that DD itself would be selling the Indo-Pak series on the DD channel was made known only two days before the matches were due to begin. This meant a fresh line of sponsors for Neo Sports a day prior to the match and some sponsors consequently being present only on DD.
Kalathil said here, “We have always said that the numbers would increase for us, but people ignored it. This is the mistake GroupM did in their attempt to drive down rates. This has resulted in them losing half the audience or perhaps more in the larger cities and even more so with upper SECs. To add to that, these figures don’t even include Tata Sky numbers, which would be further more skewed to the upper SECs.”
The selling pressure and hence, the buying pressure is on again, as the Test matches of this series is due to begin. As is known, DD had underwritten a gross sum of Rs 96 crore, which implies a net amount of over Rs 81 crore to Neo Sports. Neo Sports will also get 75 per cent of any surplus that DD would make on these amounts while selling both the Indo-Pak ODI and Test series.