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Cricket or elections: Media experts cast their vote

29-January-2004
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Cricket or elections: Media experts cast their vote

The next three months will see the Indian media covering two mega occurrences — mother of all cricketing events — the India-Pakistan series, and national elections. Courtesy cut throat competition, the election coverage this time will be of a magnitude larger than ever seen on Indian news channels.

Figures prove that both news and cricket are no longer the domain of male fancy. However, fact remains that they are the grounds where capturing the male audience might prove to be far more fructifying that on any other genre. So what are the media fraternity’s plans to get a bang for the advertisers’ buck? Which of the two is expected to give a better delivery?

To begin with, do the media experts anticipate an increase in media budgets considering the fact that it is the fag end of the current fiscal? Corrects Kartik Iyer, President, Initiative, “Most of these spends would be in the month of April. Election related spends would mainly occur at the time of result announcements. A number of ODIs are also likely to be scheduled in April. Hence, we might see preponement of spends to April. An increase in ad budgets to be present on these events is quite unlikely, however a more buoyant market might lead to an increase in the ad spends.”

Hiren Pandit, General Manager, MindShare Mumbai adds, “Most Indian companies have an April to March financial year. While for the international companies, it is January to December. Cricket and elections being important events, international companies would have already considered them. As for Indian companies, brands that heavily advertise in summer might prepone their spends to March – that is what companies like LG and Samsung did during World Cup last year.”

The experts are unanimous that spends on election can be, by no stretch of imagination, compared to spends on Cricket. The latter would be a much bigger money-spinner. States Punitha Arumugam, CEO, Madison Media, West, “As far as advertisers’ interest is concerned, you can’t compare elections and cricket. They are much keener on cricket. And here the spends would be diverted from mass and second line channels. However, as for elections, much would depend on the election coverage and the packages that news channels come up with.”

Agrees Iyer, “Election coverage would be a very short time affair as compared to cricket. Most of the investments on elections would only be at the time when the results start coming out. Cricket, on the other hand, would attract a lot of investment in the next few months.”

However, when it comes to money being diverted from mass entertainment channels, his views slightly differ, “If you look at cricket – not everyone has invested there. Secondly, there are not too many ODIs and what is more, there are no day and night matches that would clash with Prime Time. Evenings are open to consumers and I would be surprised if major diversions happen as far as eyeballs are concerned. However, budget availability might compel the advertisers to focus more in one direction.”

Pandit is more in agreement with Arumugam here. “The spends would definitely be diverted to cricket,” he states. “As for elections, it would, by and large, depend on the window the channels get — if it would be a tighter window, I don’t see any budgets being diverted to news channels – but if it is a longer window, we might see some big spends on news channels when results are announced.”

Considering that both these events would get far more ongoing coverage on television than print, is there a likelihood of some share of print shifting to television? States Iyer, “There is a natural trend and spends are increasing on television. However, these events would not magnify the trend. Most of the print advertisers are from the durables category and it would be impractical for them to be out of print in these months.”

Arumugam differs, “There is likelihood of budgets being diverted from print and also preponement of media investments.”

Coming to RoI, both are expected to deliver. States Pandit, “It is like comparing apples and oranges. One is a niche and other mass. The RoI on the two would depend on the product you are talking about.”

Iyer explains it in detail. “On image factors, cricket would score. However, if you look at pure GRPs, elections would give solid run to cricket on sheer cost efficiencies. Though news channels have not come up with any packages, the rates they would ask for would be much lower than cricket,” he opines.

As per Arumugam, “The news channels would definitely sell spots during election coverage at a premium. But they would want the media buyers to commit maximum outlays and then the deals might be sweetened by maximising value for money. These rates, however, would nowhere be near the rates for the India-Pakistan series. If you look at RoI in terms of GRPs both will work for their set of advertisers.”

The vote thus more or less hangs in balance. There, nonetheless seems to be slight tilt towards cricket for the simple reason that the series would be for a much longer duration than the announcement of election results. It would be for the first time in years that two events of this magnitude coincide — and the impact of it will be there for all to see.

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