World Cup 2003: Is it worth the hype?

By , agencyfaqs! | In
Last updated : January 20, 2003
Much has been written about the sporting extravaganza of the year, but what does it hold for the small advertiser?

In a few weeks from now, the greatest cricketing event of the year will start off in the heart of South Africa. Fourteen cricketing nations will battle it out for the most sought after trophy - the World Cup. The stakes are, no doubt, high, and so are the bucks riding on this single event. Neither advertiser nor viewer would want to miss out on an opportunity as huge as the Cricket World Cup, which incidentally comes knocking once very four years. However, going by the current performance of the Indian cricket team, will the advertiser really get the kind of bang for his buck he is looking for during the 2003 World Cup? More importantly, is impact commensurate with the advertising rupee spent on a premium event such as the World Cup?

Before we attempt to answer these questions, a quick recap of the goings-on behind the scenes in the run-up to the cricketing extravaganza. The fever really set in almost a year ago when MAX, the events and movies channel from SET India, bagged the exclusive C&S telecast rights for all ICC cricket tournaments for a period of five years beginning 2002. According to industry sources, the deal was clinched at a whopping $ 255 million (going by the current value of the rupee to a dollar, which is Rs 47.96, the amount would work out to be around Rs 1,222 crore). Not to be left behind was pubcaster Doordarshan, which by law is entitled to telecast all matches featuring India, the semi-finals and finals, besides having the rights to telecast some of the other matches subject to payment of license fees to Sony.

In terms of the World Cup 2003, this meant 16 'Big Gun' matches to be telecast live on DD's terrestrial network whereas Sony had the bulk - 51 out of 54 matches that would go live with the telecast of the balance three being delayed. Meanwhile, DD tied up with the Harish Thawani-promoted Nimbus Communications to sell airtime on the network during the World Cup, effectively dividing the market between two players, both of which were eager to cash in on the mad scramble among advertisers.

The results of their efforts started showing with the turn of the year - with the big spenders choosing to go one way or the other. If MAX, for instance, has Pepsi and Samsung, DD has Coke and LG. If HLL brands Close-up and Clinic as well as Hero Honda are sponsors on MAX, DD has VSNL, Castrol, LIC, Videocon, Servo, Cadbury and Colgate. Moreover, there is much talk about petroleum brand BPCL advertising on MAX coupled with a mutual fund client whose name remains unknown.

Thus, as February 8, 2003, approaches, the competition for the estimated Rs 300-crore World Cup advertising pie is getting hotter. In fact, ESPN-STAR Sports also threw in its hat in the ring by announcing it will present the cricket matches on DD2 through pre and post shows. Interestingly, this deal has been called off owing to a breakdown in negotiations between DD and ESPN with the former demanding Rs 1.5 lakh per 30 minutes to ESPN's Rs 50,000. Furthermore, DD has widened its coverage to include a total of 43 matches (16 live and 27 delayed) by virtue of a deal struck with GCC, the News Corp subsidiary and worldwide rights owner of all ICC cricket tournaments (till the 2007 World Cup), implying a "match per day" on the terrestrial network.

Sony, of course has reacted sharply to these developments threatening to go to court if the deals come through, parallely hiring NDTV to enhance cricket coverage on MAX apart from the three-hour Extraa Innings, which is set to spice up day-to-day telecast.

So, as both networks slug it out, we come back to the moot question, is it worth splurging on the World Cup especially in the wake of India's poor performance in New Zealand? "Of course, it does," argues a senior media planner based in Mumbai. "There's no doubt that in a cricket-crazy nation like India the viewership base for an event such as the World Cup would be enormous, justifying reach and the monies invested."

But with morale running low in the Indian team besides a poor track record on foreign soil, what are the chances of success especially with sides such as Australia, England and Pakistan in the same pool as India? "In our previous three outings with Pakistan during the World Cup, we have beaten them hands down. Going by our record, I would presume we can repeat the feat at the 2003 World Cup. If you are asking me about the chances of success, I believe India would be a far better side during the World Cup," he adds.

Optimism apart, from the point of view of the advertisers - especially the medium- to small-budget players, the World Cup works out to be a very expensive proposition. A quick analysis on the basis of the card rates should clear the picture. For a minimum of 90 seconds impact, the outlay on DD would work out to be Rs 18 lakh per match (Rs 2 lakh per 10 seconds) aggregating to Rs 2.88 crore for the 16 'Big Gun' matches. On MAX, the outlay would be Rs 11.5 lakh per match (Rs 1.275 lakh per 10 seconds) aggregating to Rs 4.25 crore for a cluster of 37 matches and Rs 5.85 crore for all 51 live matches.

"For advertisers with an annual budget of Rs 10 to Rs 15 crore, this works out to be very expensive," avers a media planner with a Top 10 agency. "Not to forget the clutter that would be there on the two networks. Going by the fact that most matches would wind up by around 9.00 to 9.30 pm, and that core prime-time viewing happens only after that, I could get better reach, if I park my monies around properties (read Kyunki, Kahaani and so on) telecast during the late evening time band."

Some of course differ from this view. "It is a known fact that the viewership for prime-time soaps takes a backseat during crucial cricket tournaments or matches. And after watching a cricket-match for eight-hours on a stretch, the fatigue factor does creep in. So where is the question of better reach after 9.30 pm?" asserts a media analyst from Mumbai.

"The World Cup and indeed cricket as a sport has a strong male skew. So advertisers of male-centric brands apart from mass-based categories such as colas, FMCGs and consumer durables stand to gain with the influx of viewers tuning in to watch a cricket match. In my opinion, it does pay to be on the World Cup," he adds. © 2003 agencyfaqs!

First Published : January 20, 2003
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