Neo Sports has been on a see-saw ride for the past few months. First the channel severed its ties with STAR Alliance after the channel couldn't reach C&S homes in numbers that it had otherwise planned to. After floating its own distribution network, the channel had its first big Cricket series - India-Australia home series. However, this was overshadowed by DD's large reach and Neo's limited penetration.
But within a month's time, the channel has managed to turn the tables in increasing its reach, and thus attaining higher TVRs.
In the past one month Neo claims, its reach has grown almost two folds from a poor penetration of 20-odd per cent C&S homes to presently around 42 per cent. "One of the basic reasons why we moved out of STAR alliance was that it couldn't get us the reach we were looking for. After, we decided to distribute on our own there has been a drastic change in the figures. Before the start of India-Australia series were on a mere 20 per cent penetration in C&S homes. By end of India-Australia series, Neo had already penetrated 30 per cent of C&S homes, which has further moved up to 42 per cent in a month's time," says Shashi Kalathil, CEO, Neo Sports.
"We have closed in on DD across the metros, and in two matches marginally overtaken the state broadcaster. For the first and fourth ODIs, Neo has posted marginally higher TVRs than the state-owned DD," claims Kalathil.
Another interesting thing to note here is the feed for the India-Australia was a composite one on DD as well as Neo Sports, while the India-Pakistan series was marketed individually by the two channels after eleventh hour bid by DD for marketing rights. "We have made a profit of Rs 115 crore from the India-Pakistan ODI series, which is 10-12 per cent higher than what we could have made, had we marketed both the channels. The bid from the DD was on the higher side which made it a win-win situation for us as irrespective of the outcome we would have got minimum guaranteed amount," adds Kalathil.
Doordarshan had agreed to pay Rs 96 crore (gross) (for both test and ODI series) to the Nimbus Group as a minimum guarantee from airtime sales, which the former will earn during the telecast of the current India-Pakistan cricket series. Also, Nimbus would get 75 per cent share of the surplus amount earned over and above Rs 96 crore by DD. Out of 96 crore, Rs 64 crore was minimum guaranteed amount for ODIs, while the remaining Rs 32 crore was for Tests.
Owing to the bigger terrestrial reach, many media planners had opted merely for DD and not for NEO or composite deal, which had hit the Cricket channel's bottomline in the last series. "It was unfortunate that certain media houses shied away from us, but they had missed out an opportunity to reach SEC A in metro cities, where we have better reach than DD," says Kalathil.
Top advertisers, including HLL, S Kumar, Pidilite, HDFC and Bajaj Alliance, were not seen advertising on NEO as they preferred public broadcaster over the Nimbus-owned channel mainly citing low penetration.