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Kapil Dev is Sony Entertainment brand ambassador

This follows Sony's acquisition of the satellite rights for ICC cricket tournaments including the World Cup



agencyfaqs!
MUMBAI

In a coup of sorts, MAX and Sony Entertainment Television (SET) yesterday announced that India's greatest all-rounder Kapil Dev will be brand ambassador for the network for a period of three years. Kapil Dev, who led the Indian team to victory in the 1983 World Cup, will represent and promote the MAX and Sony association with the ICC Cricket Tournaments starting with the ICC Champions Trophy in September 2002 and followed by the World Cup in February 2003.

SETMAX has been aggressively concentrating on the acquisition of cricketing rights, and has made the game a major part of its marketing strategy. Sony has bought the satellite telecast rights for the next two World Cups, three ICC tournaments and the under-19 World Cup for an estimated $255 million (Rs 1,500 crore). This amount is tremendous, especially when compared to the $12 million that DD and ESPN Star Sports shelled out for the last World Cup, on which the two networks made an estimated $25 million. Doubts, therefore, have been expressed at many quarters regarding the network's ability to recover the costs.

Cricket attracts around 10 per cent of the Rs 3,000 crore C&S advertising market, and even with considerable hype, this percentage is unlikely to increase dramatically. Analysts say that it is in this context that the roping in of Kapil Dev must be seen. "The move reflects Sony's attempt to take cricket out of the sports arena, and move it into the genre of general entertainment. Kapil Dev as brand ambassador is likely to bring in new audiences."

Bringing in newer audience, like women, is the key to Sony's gameplan to recover the costs. Speaking to agencyfaqs! recently, Rajat Jain, executive vice-president and business head, SETMAX, had said, "The big thing is the fusion of sports and entertainment. The purist will watch anyway, but there is a huge untapped segment - women, the uninitiated etc. Women are sitting on the fence."

Without taking cricket out of its traditional viewers, and to the general entertainment group, there is little chance that Sony will be able to make Rs 2,500 crore out of the deal, which is what it is hoping to. As Jain said, "The challenge is to make women interested by presenting cricket in an entertaining way so that she can empathise with the game. That is what Sony will do. It will be unique, and will appeal to a wider audience, and hence it will become more attractive from the ratings point of view, and thus to the advertisers."

SET India chief executive officer Kunal Dasgupta also feels that the network is on track. "We are extremely excited about our association with Kapil since it reinforces our commitment to our viewers, to cricket and particularly to fans across India," he said. "We have targeted not only cricket fans but non-cricket audiences as well. We plan tomake the association with the ICC Tournaments the most wonderful spectacle of sportingentertainment," he said. © 2002 agencyfaqs!

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