Mumbai : This World Cup, the old enemies meet again. Not in the final as many fans would hope for or in the semi-finals like in 2011, but in the opening league match on February 15.
Well ahead of that epic India-Pakistan encounter, a different kind of a battle is being fought behind the scenes. On one side are the advertisers who want to exploit the big viewership numbers that this match promises to deliver, and sitting tight on the other is Star India, the official broadcaster, who wants to milk the match by jacking up the advertising rates.
More than 70 brands, including some regional brands and firsttime advertisers, have booked slots for the game, which is 50% more than the count for 2011 World Cup final, said a spokesman for Star India. At Rs 25 lakh per 10 seconds, this is going to be the most expensive advertising opportunity ever in cricket, but one that not many advertisers would want to miss. The match will see Amitabh Bachchan making his debut as commentator.
Star India had sold the match between the two nations in the 2011 edition — the semi-finals — at Rs 20 lakh per 10 seconds but the final between India and Sri Lanka had come close to Rs 25 lakh per 10 seconds. “From a business and brand perspective, very few events can match the potential of an India-Pakistan match. I can understand paying a premium for this match, but Rs 25 lakh is too steep,” said Basabdatta Chowdhuri, chief executive at Platinum Media, which is part of the Madison Media Group.
Media planners and agencies contest that number. According to them, Star has sold around 75% of its inventory for the India-Pakistan match and about 70% for the entire World Cup so far.
Clearly, Star India is going for the kill, seeking Rs 25 lakh per 10 seconds from those who want to advertise across all its feeds during this match, according to people in the know. But top advertisers and media planners say they would rather wait and watch, as they feel prices will dip closer to the game.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a senior executive at a large advertiser said there is enough inventory available at the moment and they are waiting for rates, even for the India-Pakistan match, to correct closer to the tournament beginning
A spokesman for Star India said the ad slots for the match have been sold out much in advance.
“No other game of cricket draws as much passion, emotion and following as an India versus Pakistan World Cup game,” he said.
The channel has packaged the India-Pakistan match in several ways. There are advertisers who have bought combined airtimes across several matches, including the most talked-about match. For them, though, the average airtime rate is working out to between Rs 4.5 lakh and Rs 5 lakh per 10 seconds. Floating inventory for the match, however, have been categorised and priced according to the feeds.
An advertiser that wants all the feeds including English, Hindi, South Indian feeds and high definition will have to pay Rs 25 lakh per 10 seconds. This means an advertising spot of 30-40 seconds would cost anywhere between Rs 75 lakh and Rs 1 crore. If an advertiser wants only English and HD feed, then it will have to pay Rs16-18 lakh per 10 seconds.
“This is by far the highest rate that has ever been charged for a cricket match by a channel and I think it is a huge risk for advertisers,” said a top Group M official, who didn’t wished to be named.
Another media planner from the Dentsu Aegis Network said it doesn’t make sense for an advertiser to pay this kind of money when there is enough cricket happening in the country with both ICC and IPL matches.
According to Indranil Das Blah, chief operating chief operating officer of sports management firm Kwan, this is undoubtedly the most high-profile match of this World Cup. “I don’t know if the ad rates are justified or not, but it can’t get bigger than this and no advertisers would risk missing it,” said Blah.
For the larger World Cup, though, Star has signed up the likes of Sony, Airtel, Gaana.com, Hero and Karbonn as sponsors, alongside Maruti, Nestle, Raymonds, Marico, Pidilite, Yepme-.com and Paytm. To cater to a wider audience, it is broadcasting the tournament in Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada and Bengali alongside Hindi and English that it hopes will bring in a large number of new advertisers to the World Cup as it will become more affordable for smaller advertisers.
But media planners say there is some level of concern around the Indian team’s performance as well and also the timing of the matches, but these concerns will not matter if India begin the World Cup journey with To cater to a wider audience, it is broadcasting the tournament in Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada and Bengali alongside Hindi and English that it hopes will bring in a large number of new advertisers to the World Cup as it will become more affordable for smaller advertisers.
But media planners say there is some level of concern around the Indian team’s performance as well and also the timing of the matches, but these concerns will not matter if India begin the World Cup journey with a big win over Pakistan.