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India Down Under — in retrospect

24-February-2004
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India Down Under — in retrospect

India’s visit to Australia, which included four test matches and four ODIs, was expected to generate around Rs 55–60 crore in ad revenue as per industry estimates. India’s lacklustre performance at home just before the Australia visit had somehow dampened expectations.

However, that is history now. The series delivered and delivered in style. As per channel sources, close to Rs 100 crore was generated — 50% higher than the expectations. And so were the ad rates – much higher than heard of in cricket till now. ESPN Star Sports, as per media buyers, was demanding and getting Rs 8-10 lakh per 30 seconds for the last few ODIs, four times higher than what they had opened at.

The question now is, did the series prove to be a value proposition for advertisers?

First a look at the numbers in 15+ male, C&S, ABC, all TAM markets. The first test match delivered average ratings of 1.86, second 3.44, third 3.23 and the last one – 4.83. Excellent ratings for a test match, and as per the media source, it has been a long time since a test match has delivered ratings of 4.83.

Now the One-Day matches. Australia-Zimbabwe matches, as expected, were not a very hot affair as far as ratings are concerned. The four matches between the two sides delivered ratings of 2.67, 1.17, 2.86 and 2.33 respectively. India–Zimbabwe ODIs delivered 4.96. 6.06, 7.24 and 4.96 respectively. Impressive ratings these, but a little less enthralling when compared to the India–Australia ODIs, which accumulated ratings of 8.48, 11.36, 8.46 and 7.04. Interestingly, the first three of these matches delivered higher ratings than the two finals – the first of these delivered 6.98 and the second, 8.44.

Well then, to repeat the question — did the series deliver? States Hiren Pandit, General Manager, MindShare, Mumbai, “Of course it delivered. If we look at the expectations considering India’s performance against New Zealand just before the series, it served pretty well.”

Kunal Jamuar, Business Director, Insight when asked the question, turns around and asks, “Which advertisers are you talking about – those who were there from initial stages or the ones who joined the bandwagon late?” Well, the ones who were there from the initial stages to begin with. Replies he, “Well for them the series definitely did work out. Early movers enjoyed a number of benefits, and ratings for the series are also pretty interesting. Even if the last few matches were not as per expectations, they more than made up by gaining mileage from earlier ones.”

Were the last few matches over priced? Pandit comes to the channel’s rescue. Says he, “If India had not been performing well, reverse might have been the case. Why blame the channel? Whether people are willing to pay or not decides the market. It was entirely up to the advertisers and media buyers whether they wanted to pay a premium or not.”

However as per Jamuar, “Advertisers who came in towards the end might be feeling a bit short changed as India was completely wiped out.”

The timing of the series, which fell in the middle of the financial year, perhaps enabled the advertisers to invest more. Jamuar states, “In a way. The series took place at a time when a lot of advertisers might have some marketing money still floating around. But somewhere in between, the India-Pak series was finalised and they might have tightened the purse strings to save for the bigger opportunity.”

And as per Pandit, “Honestly, if advertisers want to find money to spend on an event, they manage irrespective. Even when the budgets are frozen, there is always a way out.”

And that perhaps is the reason why the India-Pak series is already sold out. Of the ODIs, two fall on weekends, one on a Friday, and two are day and night. Even if the test matches do not deliver earth-shattering ratings, advertisers would be home.

All said and done – it was a great show. The channel is not complaining and neither are media planners and buyers. The series, it is safe to say, has raised the bar – specially for the Indian cricket team.

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