Neo Cricket on high ground post India-Australia series

By Sapna Nair , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media Publishing | November 18, 2009
The channel has five more months of international cricket lined up

Neo Cricket has gained high ground with its India-Australia series, which started towards the end of October. As per TAM data, the series scored an average TVR of 5.5 for the first five matches, for C&S 4+, all India audiences, on DD1 and Neo Cricket combined.

Until now, the match played on November 5 garnered the highest TVR of 7.1. Neo Cricket, of course, has been claiming a lion's share in the past two weeks. In Week 45, the channel claimed 76 per cent share of the sports genre.

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Apparently, the impact of the matches was felt by the general entertainment channels (GECs) as well. On October 31, the share of the top three GECs dropped from 52 per cent to 23 per cent during prime time, while Neo Cricket's share shot up to 28 per cent. During the match that garnered the most eyeballs, the share of GECs was at 41 per cent, while Neo Cricket managed a share of 38 per cent during prime time.

If one looks at the viewership of the Champions League T20 matches aired on STAR Sports in early October, the average TVR of all the matches was 1.2. The highest TVR recorded was 2. However, during the India-Australia series, the highest TVR garnered by Neo Cricket alone was 3.5 (C&S, 4+, all India).

"There were a lot of questions raised on the future of ODIs (one day internationals) and debate on club cricket versus country cricket. With these ratings, it is evident that country cricket has high viewership and cricket remains an inter-country format," says Prasana Krishnan, chief operating officer, Neo Sports Broadcast.

Media planners, too, seem to agree. "For club cricket to gain this kind of popularity will take a long time. In club cricket, the team one supports does not always perform consistently. India playing matches will always rate higher than any club matches," observes Nikhil Rangnekar, executive director, West India, Starcom Worldwide.

Neo Cricket, which priced its ad spots at roughly 3 lakh plus per 10 seconds, is content with the viewership generated and is looking forward to the subsequent five months of India playing international cricket. The channel plans to increase its ad rates by at least 10-15 per cent by the end of the series. Through these months, the channel hopes to clock Rs 650-700 crore as advertising revenue.

The India-Sri Lanka series, which comprises three tests, five ODIs and two Twenty20 matches, has begun on the channel since November 16 and will go on for a month. While a couple of advertisers have come on board, the broadcaster hopes to add more as the series progresses.

This will be followed by a triangular series between India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. There will also be the South Africa tour of India, comprising five ODIs and three test matches.