FIFA World Cup continues to keep fans on their toes, with the finals round the corner. However, when the tournament began on June 11, football was pitched against cricket, as Asia Cup began on June 15.
While the football World Cup is a once-in-four-years event; Asia Cup comes calling once in two years. With Asia Cup over and FIFA World Cup reaching its crescendo with some scintillating performances; afaqs! finds out which sporting event scored higher with advertisers and viewers.
Comparing the two events, Indranil Das Blah, vice-president, KWAN Entertainment & Marketing Solutions, says, "FIFA has been able to draw advertisers' attention. The football tournament, coming once in four years, is the most anticipated sporting event the world over. Brands have kept their eyes on it; and as a result, advertisers reduced their marketing spends on cricket by as much as 30 per cent."
As per industry sources, Asia Cup raked in revenue to the tune of Rs 100 crore for its official broadcaster, Neo Sports. FIFA World Cup was ahead, pulling in about Rs 160 crore.
On the kind of brands that have advertised during the tournaments, Ambika Srivastava, chairperson, ZenithOptimedia, shares, "For brands that look at an all-India reach with guaranteed rating levels, cricket still remains a less risky option. But for brands that are looking at building image among youth, and connecting to a metro audience, FIFA was the first choice."
She adds, "Some brands decided to be on one tournament and not the other, and shifted completely off Asia Cup for FIFA. Others decided to split their brand budgets, evenly balancing spends in the two tournaments."
According to Sharma, a preliminary analysis shows that consumer durables, telecom and handset advertisers led the fray in both the sporting tournaments. Among the top 12 advertisers in Asia Cup and FIFA (till now), six turn out to be common. The choice, hence, was not about either-or but "one" or "both". Those who could afford it and had a brand connect with the youth made their presence felt on both the tournaments.
Asia Cup boasted of brands such as Micromax, Tata DoCoMo, Airtel DTH, Lemon Mobile, HUL, Tata Motors, Perfetti, Godfrey Philips and Piramal Healthcare.
On the other hand, FIFA had on-board Vodafone Essar, Bharti Airtel, Nokia, Hero Honda Motors, Samsung India Electronics, Micromax Informatics, Parle Agro and Coca Cola, among others.
Match timings also played a role in the advertisers' decision, while making a choice between the two sporting events. While the first FIFA match is played during prime time, Asia Cup matches started during the day. Further, two of India's matches and the final of Asia Cup were played on weekdays, which advertisers refrained from buying into.
On the viewership front, it was cricket that scored a goal or two over football. Blah admits that when it comes to viewership, Asia Cup's co-existence with FIFA did not augur well for the football tournament.
As per TAM Sports data (June 15-19, C&S, 4+, all India), seven one-day international matches played during Asia Cup recorded an average TVR of 1.7. The tournament had a cumulative reach of 81.7 million viewers.
In comparison, for the first 51 matches of FIFA (June 11- 25), the average TVR stands at 0.65, with a cumulative reach of 53 million.
Numbers notwithstanding, there are some who believe that football had an edge over cricket. Divya Radhakrishnan, president, TME, says, "FIFA is getting more attention, although total advertisers on Asia cup were about 38; and on FIFA, till date, 24 (the format of the game doesn't allow too many advertisers). But brands that are targeting the youth are all on FIFA. The reasons are obvious -- FIFA being a World Cup event; and soccer is gaining a lot of attention, especially amongst urban upmarket men. Cricket has been done to death, thanks to IPL and the poor performance of the Indian team in international events in the recent past."
She has the last word, when she concludes, "In terms of ROI, it is important to track the brand objectives and the returns thereon that the events offer, in terms of audience reach, ratings and brand involvement. The impact of advertising and sponsorship is yet to be measured. Let's wait for the last goal to be scored before we announce the winner."