Team India Captain M S Dhoni, in the post-match conversation, said ‘it does not get better than this – games in the sub-continent and an India Pakistan semi-final…’ What else would crazy and even the not-so-crazy Indian cricket fans want? Let me answer that as the not-so-crazy cricket fan -- India winning first at Mohali coming Wednesday, and then the World Cup. In fact, for many, either due to last night’s euphoria or just plain hoping, India winning the World Cup is looking like the thing to happen.
The ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 has so far more than made up, for the shock that ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 was for advertisers and the broadcasters. Until the India-West Indies match that was to decide India’s fate of entering the Quarter-Finals, even the shaky India performance worked in the favour of advertisers and broadcaster ESPN Star Sports.
The ratings were coming in from the simpler games and enough came in for India South Africa’s 10+ TVR look small to the industry. India-West Indies and now also India-Australia has upped all kinds of number expectations from the World Cup as we move forward.
The Hindustan Times reported on March 24, 2011 that ESPN Star Sports is taking its ad rates up to Rs 10 L from Rs 3-4 L. Enough people in the day said this was not a complete picture as the bulk of advertising was still from sponsors – ICC’s global sponsors and ESPN Star Sports’ on-air sponsors but ESPN, like the Indian cricket team, too is playing one match at a time. The Quarter-Finals, till yesterday, was the only big chance to make more from this World Cup to be able to make up for the monies that ESPN has spent on the games. India playing is very important for all kinds of audiences to tune-in the games.
And one can only imagine what ESPN is planning for the semi-finals now, where many more brands would try and make a presence. How much can this help ESPN? A lot, actually. Apart from advertising revenues, ESPN has also ensured it is locking in subscription revenues and whatever it can make from the online feed as well. What was not going in ESPN’s favour at the beginning of the tournament was the low delivering non-India matches and a fear factor of how India would perform given it “struggle” against Ireland and Netherlands and then loss to South Africa.
India-West Indies however has made up for it, and India-Australia now has taken the game to another level. Of course losing to Pakistan would bring a lot of things crashing down but at least that is a clash of the titans that one can be rest assured would keep most people at home next Wednesday evening. And most advertisers would want to take advantage of that.
For other genres, especially Hindi general entertainment and Hindi movies, it was definitely a bad Thursday and now a bad Wednesday lies ahead. But then when entertainment & news channels and network heads themselves ensured they are in Ahmedabad to catch India-Australia, they cannot complain about viewers tuning out.
So can it get better than this? Of course it can, to get in the finals and win it.
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