There was & #BANNER1 & # a time when international cricket wasn't getting enough sponsors to execute a series, the latest being the Afro-Asian Cup, which saw ad rates dip to a new low and sponsors behind a veil till the eleventh hour. Now things have moved on, especially after India's recent win over Bangladesh and South Africa. Not only have ad rates climbed considerably (India's tour of Ireland was sold at Rs 2,00,000 per 10 seconds for telecast on six channels, including Doordarshan), but even warm-up matches are getting the sponsors' nod.
In a new high for cricket, ESS's new cricket channel, Star Cricket, will telecast India's warm-up matches during its tour to England this summer. Warm-up matches are generally not telecast.
According to media experts, the sponsors' interest is a positive sign for Indian cricket.
Media buyers say the India-England series is selling for between Rs 1,20,000 and Rs 1,60,000 for a 10 second slot. The local matches are being sold separately by the channel, instead of being packaged along with the international matches.
"Prices for the warm-up matches are not comparable with the prices for Test matches and ODIs. Warm-up matches are going for a very low price," says a media buyer on condition of anonymity. But even if the price is low, this is being seen as a positive trend for the game in the industry.
RC Venkateish, managing director, ESPN India, says, "As we had promised before, we will be showcasing live all prime cricket content featuring Team India during its tour of England. Right from warm-up matches to the Tests and ODIs, our bouquet of channels will cover the entire cricket tour, ball by ball, with analysis by some of the best experts in the game."
The channel refused to divulge more information on the sponsors for the warm-up matches.
"We have successfully stoked the passion of Indian cricket fans throughout the years and will continue to do so with our latest offering, Star Cricket," adds Venkateish.
The three channels, ESPN, Star Sports and Star Cricket, will telecast more than 125 days of international cricket till September 2008.