As the year comes to an end, the advertisers' interest in World Cup Cricket 2003 is exceedingly noticeable. Quite a few big advertisers are moving to Cricket-centric advertising. Advertisers are also, reportedly, increasing their ad budgets for the first quarter of the next year. Television, as is a foregone conclusion, would be where most of this money will be spent - and most of it, naturally on MAX and Doordarshan.
Live telecast of the match on two channels has triggered off the debate if MAX would be able to meet its targets, or will the advertisers turn to Doordarshan as LG did during ICC trophy? As to whether the channel is getting a good response from the advertisers for the World Cup, says Rohit Gupta, Executive Vice President, Sales and Revenue Management, Sony, "The response has certainly been very good. It has been a fantastic start and we are expecting a lot of closures in the next three weeks. It has, in fact, been better than our plans. If you would notice every second advertiser is creating ads related to World Cup."
As to the on-going tussle between the advertisers and the ICC, and would it not in turn affect the channel's fortunes, Gupta states, "I am sure they will have some agreement. I don't see it as a major issue."
Gupta claims that as far as ad sales are concerned the channel is very much on track. Says he, "We have already sold four of the seven live features, and 30% of the ad inventory is sold as well. The World Cup happens once in four years, and it is the single largest event in terms of viewership".
With Doordarshan also being in the arena, will MAX be able to lure very many big advertisers. Says Gupta, "Doordarshan was there for the Champion's Trophy also. Still 85% of the viewers, who had the option, watched it on MAX. Most of the propensity to buy lies with C&S households - 80% of buying happens through these C&S households. Besides the number of C&S homes has doubled vis-à-vis last World Cup and will further increase by the time of the World Cup. Hence the advertisers will definitely look at MAX".
According to IRS 2000, round 1, in 1999 there were 61.3 million TV homes, 60.9 million were DD homes, while 26.9 million were C&S homes. In 2003, according to NRS 2002, there will be 81.6 million TV homes, out of which 76.7 million are DD homes, while 40.5 million are C&S homes. Hence, if number of households has increased by 13.5 million as far as C&S networks are concerned, for DD it has increased by about 16.7 mn households.
And if we look at average ratings for MAX during ICC championship, it was only during India matches that 'Cricktainment' had 1+ ratings. For pre match two hours it was 1.4 and post match I hour 3.3. And only India matches had the ratings of 9.3. Other matches, at an average had a rating of 3 or less.
Will MAX change its programming to the extent that the ratings sky rocket, and will the advertisers consider the ratings for the ICC series good enough to advertise on MAX at a far higher rate than Doordarshan remains to be seen.
Says Meenakshi Madhwani, CEO, Carat Media Services, India, "Different brands will look at different channels. The brands wanting to reach wide national pop strata would want to look at Doordarshan, while metro centric brands would look at MAX. However rates MAX is asking for are very high right now. We definitely want to buy media on MAX during World Cup telecast but not at the rates they are quoting right now."