ESPN Star hardsells Indo-Pak cricket series, doubles ad rates!
Broadcaster ESPN-Star Sports is hardselling next month’s India-Pakistan cricket series to advertisers at rates almost twice that of the popular India Premier League (IPL) even as many media buyers and advertisers are complaining that the rates are unreasonable.
India and Pakistan will play three one-day internationals and two Twenty20 matches between December 25 and January 6 in their first bilateral series in five years. ESPN-Star Sports,which has the broadcasting rights for the series, is demanding INR 7,25,000 (Approximately SL Rupees 1,700,000) for 10 seconds of advertisement spot for the ODIs, and INR 900,000 per 10 seconds for the T20 matches, The Economic Times reported today quoting media-buying officials.
The rates are more than double that of INR 3,25,000 ESPN-Star demands for a 10-second slot for the India-England ODI series that will take place after Pakistan’s visit, they said. For India-England T20 matches, it is charging INR 600,000 for a 10-second ad spot.
This reflects the popularity and marketability of an India-Pakistan match. But some advertisers and media buyers say the rates are too high even for an India-Pakistan series.
Given that the two teams are clashing in a home series after a long gap, interest levels are high.
But unlike last time, the overall market is sluggish. Many brands are done with their festive campaigns and its the last quarter of the year, said Mac Machaiah, principal partner, client leadership, at Mindshare, the country’s largest media-buying firm owned by WPP Group.
When there’s buoyancy in the market, such rates fly. But not otherwise, he added. Some big advertisers, including top carmaker Maruti Suzuki and electronics major Samsung, said their advertising participation in the upcoming series is yet to be finalised.
"As all big cricket tournaments, we are definitely considering this one too. But if the rates are too steep, advertising on this series is not a must-do for us," Mayank Pareek, managing executive officer for marketing and sales at Maruti Suzuki, said. A Samsung spokeswoman said the Korean firm is considering advertising on the series, but has yet to take a final decision.
Some media buyers say hard bargains are already taking place. A top official of a leading telecom service provider and a big advertiser on cricket said rates would definitely have to be re-visited. Navin Khemka, managing partner at media buying firm ZenithOptimedia, which buys media for Reckitt Benckiser, said: "The series doesn’t have too many matches and the broadcaster would want to charge a premium... but the fact remains that the market situation is tough."
Sanjay Kailash, executive vice-president at ESPN Software India, however, said the rates are in line with expected viewership. India-Pakistan is a highly anticipated series. The two teams are meeting in a home series after a long time. Naturally, there is excitement among advertisers, he said. We are in talks with almost all leading advertisers, and at least 30% of those who’ ve shown interest are those who don’t generally advertise on cricket."
Kailash said the broadcaster has already tied up with a sponsor though he declined to mention the name. The broadcaster is hopeful of signing up two presenting sponsors and six co-sponsors.
Leading names including telecom firms Bharti Airtel, Nokia and Vodafone, electronics makers LG and Samsung, electric products firm Havells and cola makers Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are doing the rounds as key potential advertisers.
The last time Pakistan toured India was in 2007, when India won a three-match Test series 1-0 and a five-match ODI series 3-2. Since then, the two teams have met only in one-off matches in international tournaments like last year’s World Cup semi-final in Mohali and the Asia Cup in Bangladesh this March.