With the 2011 edition of the ICC Cricket World Cup taking place in India, the TV ad rates for the game have gone up by at least 50 per cent over what it had commanded in its last season.
An increase in television viewership fragmentation and the year-on-year inflation in media ad rates (approximately 12 per cent in print and TV) are the influencers that have caused the augmentation in the pricing, media pundits state.
For the record, ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 was the ninth edition of the tournament and took place in the West Indies on March 13-April 28, 2007. SET Max was the official broadcaster in India.
On the viewership front, ESPN-STAR Sports (ESS), the official broadcaster, has already syndicated the rights of the tournament to more than 200 territories so far, in a bid to reach out to at least a billion viewers.
In India, media observers believe that if India continues to remain in its current fine form, thereby increasing the audience expectations about winning the World Cup, the viewership of the tournament could bring in as much eyeballs as the peak viewership figures of the last IPL.
Additionally, ESS has also lined up mega plans for the ICC Cricket World Cup in a bid to present it in an entertaining and engaging manner to garner maximum viewership.
Shot in high definition (HD) format, the 2011 edition of the tournament will introduce live match coverage by 3G mobile streaming in India. The matches will be covered by 27 cameras, including innovative features such as movable slip cameras and new low 45 degree field cameras. The production will also have a mid-wicket camera position for live running between wickets.
Manu Sawhney, managing director, ESPN-STAR Sports, states in an official communiqué, "At ESPN-STAR Sports, we are launching many first of its kind initiatives during this edition, including a special Hindi feed for select matches, HD production and live match coverage through 3G mobile streaming."
Meanwhile, ESS' bouquet of networks, including ESPN-STAR Sports and STAR Cricket, will telecast all the 49 matches of the ICC World Cup 2011, starting February 19, 2011. In addition, 37 matches will be simultaneously telecast in Hindi on STAR Sports.
With an eye to reach out to a billion viewers, ESS has already syndicated the rights of the tournament to more than 200 territories so far.
Sawhney says, "In India, we have had a very positive response for this marquee property as advertisers fully realise the significance of the event and its traction amongst fans in the subcontinent. Sponsors such as Sony, Pepsi, Maruti Suzuki, CEAT, Phillips, Nokia and others have already come on board and we are in discussions with many others."
On the marketing front, ESPN-STAR Sports is working closely with ICC for the creative execution and media implementation of the communication campaign, 'The Cup That Counts'.
"The high decibel 360 degree campaign involves key players from the three host nations and will be breaking in Indian media very soon," Sawhney says.
As far as programming is concerned, the channel has lined up 2500 hours of lead up programming and 150 hours of original content, in addition to the highlights package. The lead up programming will come under various titles, including 'Versus', 'World Cup Upsets', 'Epic Encounters', 'Advantage Australia', 'Gameplan' and 'Road to the Final'. ESS is also showcasing highlights of all the earlier editions of the World Cup ('75, '79, '83, '87, '92, '96, '99, 2003 and 2007).
Also, the production effort will see ESPN-STAR Sports deploying six OB units - one each in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh and four in India - with a production crew of more than 350 on board. The production task will involve taking more than 2000 domestic flights, along with 350 international ones. More than 13,000 room nights will be consumed by the sports broadcaster's crew while covering the mega event.