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Indo-Pak cricket: Betting on value for money

Nithya Subramanian

New Delhi , Feb. 14

WITH the Government finally giving the green signal to India's tour of Pakistan, television channel Ten Sports, advertisers and sponsors are heaving a sigh of relief. For, at stake are revenues of over Rs 200 crore.

After a Cabinet-level meeting between the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr L.K Advani, the Finance Minister, Mr Jaswant Singh, the External Affairs Minister, Mr Yashwant Sinha, said, "After taking into consideration all aspects, it was decided that the tour should go ahead as proposed. The two cricket boards will decide the dates of the matches."

So even as the exact schedule of the tournament has not been announced, the stakeholders are not too worried about the number of matches being played. Corporates such as Samsung, which is the title sponsor, is believed to have doled out Rs 15 crore, while Bajaj is the presenting sponsor. LG and Hero Honda, the associate sponsors have spent Rs 8 crore each. The advertisers have also paid as much as $10,000 (Rs 4.5 lakh) for a 10-second spot to be part of the action.

According to Mr R. Zutshi, Director, Marketing, Samsung India, "The series is significant because this is the first time that we are tying up with a cricketing event. It is a historical series and we hope that the matches are played in the spirit of friendship." But the biggest gainers from the tournament will be Ten Sports, which has the exclusive rights to the series.

Speaking to Business Line from Dubai, Mr Peter Hutton, Head of Programming, Ten Sports, said, "We are relieved as the India-Pakistan matches have a lot of potential for a great series." Ten Sports has the rights to all the matches being played in Pakistan. He added that the success of this series could lead to the possibility of other such series in the forthcoming years.

The channel is expecting to increase its distribution reach substantially. "We are well-entrenched in urban India. We hope to increase our coverage in India through the series. Also, once people taste the channel, they tend to stay with it," said Mr Hutton.

The national broadcaster, Doordarshan, would have to be content with the hour-long highlights package that it is likely to acquire from Ten Sports. Prasar Bharati, however, is expecting to generate ad revenues of at least Rs 2.5 crore to Rs 3 crore for the live cricket aired on All India Radio.

The India-Pakistan series is expected to benefit everybody. For Ten Sports, it will offer good viewership and for the advertisers value-for-money. "During the World Cup, the television ratings of the India Pakistan match broke all records. This time too, we expect the initial ratings to be very good. For the later matches, the viewership numbers would depend on India's performance," said Mr Atul Phadnis, Director, S-Group, TAM India.

The advertisers would also benefit because this series is expected to bring together audiences from various channels. "These days it is difficult to aggregate viewership at one place. We expect a lot of audiences to come together during the matches," Mr Phadnis added.

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