New Delhi : India’s dismal performance in the recently concluded tri-nation series Down Under has left advertisers uncertain. With less than 10 days left for the ICC Cricket World Cup, Star Sports, which will broadcast the tournament, has not yet found a lead sponsor.
With 90% of TV viewers in the country having watched the previous edition of the World Cup, advertisers expected that the flagship tournament of ODI cricket would garner millions of eyeballs. But India’s poor form, lack of star players, the waning appeal of ODIs, non-prime time telecast and the impending IPL has made advertisers play safe. They would rather prefer to sit on the fence and wait for the right moment.
“We will look at it match by match. Depending on India’s performance, we will decide whether to buy on-air advertising slots or not. We don’t want to put all our eggs in one basket. The IPL starts right after the World Cup and the return on investment for it doesn’t depend on a single team’s performance, like it does on India’s in the World Cup,” said a senior executive with one of the world’s largest FMCG firms.
According to people familiar with the matter, most on-ground sponsors (commercial partners) of the World Cup, such as PepsiCo India and Hyundai India, have not yet bought on-air advertising spots. When contacted, spokespersons from PepsiCo India and Hyundai India declined to comment.
However, a Star Sports spokesperson said that on-ground sponsors too have plans which include on-air, digital, activations, screenings, though he refused to divulge any names.
Lead sponsorship for all feeds and languages is being offered at around Rs 60 crore, the associate sponsorship for over Rs 40 crore for all feeds and over Rs 20 crore each for English and Hindi feeds, and about Rs 10 crore for HD feed.
“We already have confirmations for over 80% of our inventory for the opening match of India vs Pakistan, with many more confirmations to be closed over the next 10 days. Considering the response, we might have to drop at least 20 to 30 spots in the very first match. We are almost sold out for the top 13 games (all India plus knockout games) and are in the process of closing the balance,” said the Star Sports spokesperson.
Market experts say not everyone is sitting on the fence though. Many first-time World Cup sponsors, including Nestle, Marico, Yepme, Paytm and Raymonds, have signed up. A lot of advertisers are eyeing digital feeds that allow online streaming and is more affordable than TV ads. But media buying experts said on the condition of anonymity that a significant amount of total ad inventory is still sitting idle.