One show that has changed the face of cricket presentation in India is Extraaa Innings on MAX.
Since its debut during the ICC Champions Trophy 2002 in Sri Lanka, the show has contributed immensely to MAX's overall viewership, and of course, catapulted its female anchor Mandira Bedi to superstardom.
No surprises then that rival ESPN Star Sports has adopted a similar strategy of fun and entertainment along with cricket with capsules such as Screamometer, Mini Ka Halla and yes, the Shaz and Waz show.
Cricket presentation today, especially during major tournaments, is not just about the live telecast of matches, but also about allied entertainment.
For the ICC Champions Trophy 2004, which is scheduled to begin on September 10 in England, MAX has included a news segment by Mandira, along with mime artist Vikram Sathe's act, ringtones, mobile games, postcards, fan reactions, Q&A, message boards, Kaptain's Korner, a capsule titled Voice of India, tarot-card reading, and roving reporter. All of these are in addition to its expert analysis before, during, and after the matches.
MAX, quite clearly, is leaving no stone unturned during the forthcoming ICC Champions Trophy.
Equally strong are the promotions and marketing of Extraaa Innings, which includes on-air promos, a print and hoardings campaign, banner ads, radio jingles and a music video too.
"Our strategy has been to expand with cricket and consolidate with movies," says Tushar Shah, vice-president, marketing and commercial, MAX.
In keeping with this strategy, a groundswell around cricket was initiated about three months ago, when the channel kicked-off an eleven-city gully cricket tour with Mandira Bedi in June. This was followed by a van campaign covering 103 cities, backed by a generic advertising campaign 'Cricket Fever is Back on MAX' in print, outdoor and Internet.
A similar build-up was initiated during the Champions Trophy 2002 and the World Cup 2003 with gully cricket with Kapil Dev backed by a multi-media advertising campaign.
To keep interest levels going during major tournaments, the channel has also distributed time schedules of the matches. And for the current ICC Champions Trophy, in particular, the channel will embark on a physical distribution of almost 10-15-lakh copies. "The schedules will be pushed through local kirana stores or when home deliveries are made," says Shah.
During the World Cup last year, almost 25-26-lakh schedules were distributed through a tie-up with The Times Of India as well as through an on-ground distribution mechanism.
Industry estimates of the total promotional outlay for cricket this year on MAX is in the region of Rs 4-5-crore. The promotional outlay for the World Cup 2003 was almost 3 times the spends this year standing at about Rs 15-crore.
Of the various media, says Shah, outdoor is a crucial driver for the channel on account of its high impact value. Print and TV play an important role as well, while Internet and radio are used as support media. "All of these are geared to get the viewer in and the trick is to use these media coupled with ground events innovatively."
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