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Cricket — projections, expectations and Ten Sports

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Cricket — projections, expectations and Ten Sports

Cricket, as we all know, means money not only for the eleven on the field but also for Cricket Boards and channels that bag the telecast rights for these tournaments. As per projections by Madison Media, Season 2002–2003 (July - June) saw total revenue generation of Rs 338 crore for the channels. For 2003–2004, the figure is likely to go up to Rs 403 crore, and in the consecutive year, it is likely to be Rs 305 crore.

The projections

In July 2002 to June 2003 (total estimate Rs 338 crore), ESS was estimated to generate revenue worth Rs 60 crore (Natwest ODIs – Rs 30 crore, India NZ series - Rs 15 crore and India Bangladesh series - Rs 15 crore), MAX Rs 230 crore (World Cup - Rs 200 crore, ICC Knockout - Rs 30 crore) and Rs 48 crore for Doordarshan for the India West Indies tour (Money generated by DD for ICC and World Cup is not included here).

Now the projections for July 2003 to June 2004, where the estimated figures are Rs 403 crore. If you are wondering why the projections are so high, it is because India plays a lot more matches in this duration. Doordarshan, as per the estimates, would have ad revenues worth Rs 88 crore (India – Australia – New Zealand Tri-series), ESS – Rs 75 crore (India – Australia – Zimbabwe Tri-series, India Bangladesh series), and Ten Sports – Rs 180 crore (India - Pakistan series). In addition, Rs 60 crore are expected to be riding on the Asia Cup – though which channel would get the telecast rights remains to be seen.

For July 2004 to June 2005, total spends are expected to be Rs 305 crore. ESS - Rs 15 crore (India – England ODIs), SETMAX – Rs 40 crore (ICC Knockout), Ten Sports – Rs 50 crore (India – West Indies) and Doordarshan Rs 200 crore (India Australia series and India – England series).

ESPN Star Sports, as per sources, is now charging Rs 8-10 lakh per 30 second for the ongoing triangular One Day series in Australia. This is three times over the ad rate the series opened at. Thanks to India’s dazzling performance.

Ten Sports - excitement unlimited

Interestingly, however, India’s performance Down Under seems to be working in favour of Ten Sports as well — the channel with the broadcast rights for the India-Pakistan series. As per reports, the channel has signed a $43 million, five-year contract with the Pakistan Cricket Board for the television rights of all matches played in Pakistan in that duration. “We have acquired the exclusive Indian rights for all international cricket played in Pakistan till 2008, which would include all the India tours to Pakistan in that period.

The rights for international cricket played in India will be up for tender in the next few months, and we will pursue those rights aggressively,” confirms Chris McDonald, Chief Executive Officer, Taj Television Ltd.

Before we proceed further to the much-awaited India-Pakistan series, a look at ratings for the India–Pakistan match in the last World Cup. TAM viewership score card indicates that the India-Pakistan match broke all viewership records. Six metros put together had a rating of 22.4 — a never before in Cricket ratings! And the expectations from the upcoming series in March are no wonder very high.

Sharmista Rijhwani, Managing Director, Taj Television India, though not keen on providing any details on the ad rates and related subjects, states, “The Co-presenting sponsors for the on air coverage on Ten Sports are Bajaj and Samsung. The associate sponsors are GSK, Pepsi, LG, Maruti, IOCL, Hero Cycles and Hutch. By being the first to come on board for this historic series, they will derive fantastic mileage from this property.”

The rates the channel started with, as per Pradeep Iyenger, National Buying Director, Carat India, were Rs 2 lakh 40 thousand for 10 seconds and last week the channel was asking for Rs 4 lakh 33 thousand for 10 seconds. These rates are much higher than anything Cricket has seen so far — World Cup Cricket, as per media buyers, started with Rs 90 thousand per 10 second and went up to about 2 lakh 20 thousand per 10 second.

The Media experts’ perspective

According to media buyers, the channel claims the inventory to be full – but they expect some spots to be available closer to the date of the series. States Ajit Varghese, General Manager, Madison Media, “There is a huge premium been asked for but inventory is still available. Guess they seem to be holding on to a little bit for last minute hype. I'm sure sponsors might as well be worried about the player participation clause, Ten Sports penetration issue etc.”

As per Partha Ghosh, Vice President, Media Edge, bookings at the moment are unavailable but they are likely to be obtainable at a later date, “As of now the channel is not accepting new bookings. That need not mean that the inventory is full. Closer to the match they should accept bookings. That would also allow them to charge a premium.”

Iyenger, meanwhile, believes that the rates being charged are hitting the roof. He says, “Cricket is now, by and large, getting the rate that it deserves. But the upcoming series is overpriced. And as for inventory, I do not think it is full – to say that demand is much larger than supply would help the channel in hiking the rates even further.”

A manifestation of expectations

As for what are the expectations from the India-Pakistan series as far as deliverables are concerned, they are definitely high. States Iyenger, “TRPs are expected to be higher than the current series. However, it is not only a question of TRPs, it is also a question of interest levels, sentiments and emotions. Involvement levels would be higher by at least 20% to the current series.”

Varghese, however, has a different perspective. “At least for the first couple of ODIs, TRPs would be higher. But after the first two ODIs, it may hold on the similar TRPs as the current series as India is a superior team. And people won’t like one-sided matches. All would depend on how skewed the test series is and how many matches would end with a result and if it is a well fought series.”

The Indian team is performing very well in Australia. Would their performance be a big advantage for Ten Sports? States Ghosh, “Today, Cricket is a bigger draw than any mega Hindi movie. With India’s current form, it will have a very positive impact on the upcoming series.”

Agrees Varghese, “India-Pak series by itself would have been a big series. Ten Sports tied up with most sponsors for the event before the series began. India's recent will help Ten Sports cash in on the hype.”

Cricket – the genre in 2004?

Does it then mean that Cricket would be the genre to watch out for in the year 2004? Iyenger does not think so, “No, I would be very clear. Sitcoms and movies rule as far as Indian audience is concerned. Cricket, though big, would not eat into it. Already, at the current price, there are fewer takers for Cricket. Clients are backing out. But they do not hesitate in buying on Kyunki… at a high price.”

Varghese, however, has a different perspective. “Investments on Cricket would definitely be high because all the recent top spenders like telecom sector, two wheelers, etc. are more or less male focussed and cricket will just fit in,” he opines.

The series is more than a month away – but the excitement is already palpable. Ten Sports is definitely far more visible now. What is more, it does not need to market the fact that the series would be aired on the channel — the India-Pakistan series would take care of itself. If the matches are half as nail biting as the current series, advertisers will rejoice even more than the channel.


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