F1: A scope beyond cricket

By Anindita Sarkar , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media Publishing | October 20, 2011
The event is rumoured to be generating revenues worth Rs 50-60 crore, excluding the Rs 125-150 crore ticket sales revenue over the three-day event that begins on October 28.

Indian advertisers, hailing from the land that once favoured only cricket, may be expanding their scope after all.

Although not a highly optimistic picture yet, with select 'few' brands associating with the 2011 Indian Grand Prix, marketers may be weighing towards the fact that Indian advertisers are gearing up to go global.

Airtel establishes this well. The telecom company has inked a deal worth approximately Rs 30 crore per year to come on board the international sporting event as the title sponsor, over a period of five years.

Meanwhile, names such as Vodafone, Petronas, MRF, BPCL, Tata Motors, Bharti Cellular, Sony, Samsung, UB and Perfetti have signed up, too, deeming it to be the right event to get associated with to tap into the fast-paced consumer set.

As a result, the event is estimated to be generating advertising revenues worth Rs 50-60 crore, excluding the Rs 125-150 crore ticket sales revenue over the three-day event that begins on October 28. ESPN-STAR Sports, the official broadcaster of the race, will generate ad revenues estimated to be in the region of Rs 5-6 crore. The channel is commanding prices in the range of Rs 4-4.5 lakh for a 10-second spot, while the associate sponsors have paid amounts estimated at Rs 2-2.5 crore.

Yes, the numbers look small when compared to cricket! However, this is also because the monetisation opportunity for the game is tricky. "Advertisers cannot run their spots during real time since the race will be on. Therefore, they can only advertise pre and post the event, with extension to on-ground activation. Thus, the scope of opportunity in real time when viewership is the highest is nil," says P M Balakrishna, chief operating officer, Allied Media.

For the record, the associate sponsors for the event, such as the U B Group, Vodafone Essar, Samsung India, Sony India and Perfetti Van Melle, have bought 90-300 seconds of airtime on the channel per day.

It has been observed that the average viewership garnered by an F1 race in India is between 1 and 2 TVR, while for a cricket match it could reach 5 TVR or more. Therefore, with a lower viewership level, planners state that the non-cricketing events cannot command ad rates comparable to cricket.

To compare: the fourth edition of the Indian Premier League commanded TV ad spot rates that ranged up to Rs 15 lakh per 10 seconds, and made as much as Rs 800-1,000 crore in broadcasting revenues.

However, this does not mean that more brands will not get associated with F1. The game will take approximately three years to find strong roots in India.

"But, it will happen. India has already started to look beyond cricket. And, the advent of F1 will only give further push to other international sporting events, as India gains space on the global map," says Navin Khemka, managing partner, ZenithOptimedia.

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