Will advertiser interest in cricket surge after India’s win against Australia?

Industry watchers note that higher the viewership and demand, the easier it is to sell ad inventory for the broadcaster

e4m by Misbaah Mansuri & Noel Dsouza
Published: Jan 22, 2021 8:23 AM  | 6 min read

Live sports has finally made a comeback after months of inactivity in the pandemic. The recent sight of the Indian cricket team storming Australia’s Gabba fortress in record-breaking fashion, capping one of the greatest Test series of the modern era has only made it more special and memorable. With the India-England series upon us next month, industry watchers expect the recent win to spur advertiser interest in the sporting extravaganza after a long, pandemic-led hiatus.

An advertising sixer?

Ashish Bhasin, CEO APAC and Chairman India, Dentsu notes that higher the viewership, higher the demand and easier it is to sell the inventory. “More than pent-up demand, what usually happens is that when India does well, ratings do better and viewership goes higher. The recent win has invited a lot of pride; interest levels are also high, which is great for the upcoming England series. As we go forward, it will depend on how the team performs and how the series unfolds but there is new-found confidence after the recent win so I anticipate it going well. As I always say, in advertising, money follows eyeballs and that is the case here,” Bhasin remarks.

The upcoming India-England tournament will have 28 playing days, more than the India-New Zealand tour consisting of 15 playing days only. And more playing days, in turn, means more advertising inventory.

Senior media expert- Anita Nayyar too signals that the pent up demand for sure will have a run-off on viewership and advertising for the upcoming series. “Test cricket has started to gain interest over the last few series as it has seen some decisions rather than drawn matches. And with this historic win at Gabba, the interest for result-oriented test series has got rekindled. Increased Buzz and the moment marketing tributes by many brands for this series is sure to be a spirit lifter and will have increased interest from advertisers resulting in good news for the upcoming series,” says Nayyar.

Meanwhile, Navonil Chatterjee, Joint President & Chief Strategy Officer, Rediffusion Brand Solutions notes that typically viewership will continue to be higher for the shorter formats of the game.

“In cricket, they say timing is everything. And this victory has come at a time when it is feeling like manna from heaven. The dreaded year 2020 is finally behind us along with all its despair and despondency, there is a faint glimmer of hope that 'the' vaccine is coming soon, and the new year has brought with it an element of optimism, however cautious it may be.

"And exactly at that moment comes this epic saga about the triumph of the human spirit against all odds and adversity. The timing could not have been sweeter. "

They say that there is no greater unscripted drama than live sports and it has hit all other OTT content out of the Brisbane park for the moment! So, of course, Indian cricket lovers would be waiting eagerly to binge on the England tour, come this domestic season of cricket. Not just because their appetite has been whetted, but also because in this overall climate of divisiveness, cricket has once again united a nation and brought together people irrespective of their caste, creed, colour, political leanings or ideological stances. The amount of WhatsApp forwards, memes, tweets, Facebook posts etc post this victory are a clear pointer to that pent-up individual suffering finding a collective outburst in perfect unison,” he asserts.

‘Pitching’ high

Agnello Dias, Co-Founder, Taproot Dentsu observes that the recent win will result in a broader spread of hero-worship, which will make viewership stronger for the upcoming series. “Viewership and hero-worship are closely related. Since the Sachin-Dravid-Sehwag-Ganguly-Laxman era, Indian cricket has seen a steady deterioration in the number of viewership beacons till it was reduced to the Dhoni-club and finally just two - Kohli & Rohit. With the Gabba win, a new batch of heroes has just been launched and what's more, they are from diverse pockets of the country. Thus putting in place a robust, broad platform for the next generation of hero-fan viewership numbers. The last time, we saw a seminal moment as this was in the 2011 World Cup. I think almost all of them have moved on and this has come at exactly the right time as far as BCCI is concerned. It's also helped international cricket gain much of the ground it was losing to IPL,” Dias states.

Star Sports, which is the broadcaster of the India-England series revealed that it is seeing strong advertiser interest from categories like auto, ed-tech, e-commerce, automotive, insurance and, financial services among others. “The India-England series marks the return of cricket to Indian soil after a long gap. The historic win at the Gabba has built anticipation for yet another crucial series with the world champion, England. We are seeing strong pent-up demand and positive sentiment amongst the marketers,” said Anil Jayaraj, Executive Vice President, Star Sports.

Rajni Daswani of So Cheers contends that there will obviously be a rise in advertising this year, considering that people are still getting back to their normal lives. “To make up for the lost year, consumers and brands both will return to the market with a stronger fervour. The latest win at Brisbane has reinvigorated the love for Cricket and shows promise in the newer, younger team and brings back a lot of old viewers and will bring in a lot of new-age viewers influenced into cricket by the older generations. Our country is still driven and united by cricket and the viewership will get better. We saw the pent up demand in IPL 2020 where people took to the event with open arms. Advertising around the sport in India will continue to draw interest by brands, just that we may see different industry sponsors than previous years,” he remarks.

Meanwhile Sameer Makani, Co-founder & Managing Director, Makani Creatives states that the recent win will set the allied industry on a growth path that will possess good momentum for advertising as we go forward.

“India’s performance in the match has surely rejuvenated the overall viewership positively. For India, cricket is practically worshipped. Hence, it has been one of the major avenues for advertisers to reach the audience in real-time, considering the viewership it garners. Last year has been tough for advertisers owing to the pandemic and the gradual decline in outdoor advertising but with digital gaining prominence, the upcoming England tour to India for a series of matches may drive the business growth for several brands,” Makani says.

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