Just when cricket started looking good with the Indian Oil Cup, the Videocon Cup has brought the cricket debate back. The Tri-Nation series, which was aired on ESPN, was played between India, New Zealand and Zimbabwe. The numbers for five matches are out and the media professionals a little unhappy.
Beginning with the data, TAM Media Research shows that for the CS 15 + in the all India market, the series has shown some numbers for the matches India was playing. The India-New Zealand match on August 26, 2005 delivered a 3.18. India-Zimbabwe on August 29, 2005 threw a 2.84, and finally the New Zealand-India match on September 2, 2005 gave a 3.95.
The numbers are marginally higher for the male TG. Just to draw a comparison, the Indian Oil Cup delivered as high as 12 plus in the finale between Indian and Sri Lanka.
For media professionals these are low numbers. Pradeep Iyengar, Vice-President, Carat Media, said, “These are way below expectations. This only accentuates how unpredictable cricket has become as a property.”
Manoj Malkani, Group Investment Director (Broadcast), Starcom thinks on similar lines, “The series wasn’t a very big one, but these are still low numbers.”
Both professionals attribute these numbers to the Indian team’s bad performance. “The political chaos and the team’s form have resulted in this. Interest in the property has to be rejuvenated and it doesn’t appear to be happening,” remarked Iyengar.
Another point that Malkani brings in is that there is too much cricket happening. “The Indian Oil Cup came after a reasonable gap. And there is more cricket coming. In all, there is quite a lot that people can choose from.”
Iyengar believed that sports in India was maturing to a level where people could pick more than just cricket, and a recent example was the tennis craze that consumed the media.
“The fact that Indian cricket is seeing problems in evident in the fact that the team is finding trouble in getting sponsorship. Last time, there were several players, including the Tatas, that came forward, but that is not the case this time,” he pointed out.
Clear as it is that the Indian cricket debate is not coming to any conclusion, for a while at least, another factor that is clear is that advertisers aren’t going to shun the property in a hurry. “All it takes is one game,” said Malkani, “You never know when the team will start delivering and that pretty much can decide people’s interest in the property.”
“On a larger scale, the property is losing its charm, but there still isn’t anything like an India-Pakistan match to ensure that entire India is watching your message,” Iyengar added.
No last match seems to be a benchmark, and it is becoming difficult to know what you are getting when you buy cricket. The property is a reason for more talk now with the team sponsorship ordeal. The only thing one is certain about is that, as always, it will be the reason for more talk in the forthcoming days.