MAX confident of selling inventory by mid-Jan '03

MUMBAI: Indecisive advertisers and ad agencies had better watch out as there might not be any available spots during the World Cup 2003 cricket matches being aired on television! MAX officials have claimed that it will be able to sell 75 per cent of its World Cup cricket inventory by the first week of January. Nimbus officials have also claimed to have sold 91 percent of their total inventory.

SET executive vice president, sales and revenue management Rohit Gupta confirms: "We are very much on target as far as the sales of inventories as well as the revenues are concerned. The large sponsorship categories will be finalised by 5 January 2003. The remaining inventories (around 25 per cent) relating to the small-spender categories will also be finalised by mid-January 2003."

Gupta also confirms that five out of the six major properties such as Action Replays, Fours, Sixes, Fall of Wickets have already been sold. "Predikta, the interactive game, had various levels of sponsorship. Pepsi is the principal sponsor of Predikta, whereas the other advertisers will offer prizes," he adds.

Media sources claim that these smaller categories include credit card companies, banks, insurance companies, cement companies, food companies and batteries, among others. Such companies need not necessarily have large budgets and could make do with buying lesser spots.

MAX's Gupta insists that the channel has carefully designed the advertising sales package so that advertisers will experience minimal clutter and viewers will have an enriching and satisfying experience. MAX has 4500-4800 spots whereas DD has around 6000 spots.

Channels    Qualifying stage    Super Sixes stage

DD    210 spots    170 spots

MAX    140 spots    60 spots

However, the MAX team is pretty bullish on expanding the base of advertisers for the cricket matches. MAX has devised an entertainment package that comprises several 'softer' and 'not-necessarily cricket' programmes.

Says Gupta, "Although the purists will be interested only in viewing the matches, there could be others who could be interested in knowing more about South Africa; the culinary delights of South Africa; or the personal details of cricketers and other celebrities. "

Gupta also feels that 'out of home' (OOH) viewing will increase substantially during the forthcoming World Cup. "Research agencies must make an effort to monitor the viewing patterns. These findings must eventually be shared with media planners," he adds.

Industry sources claim that MAX is poised to garner nearly Rs two billion out of the possible Rs 3.7 billion ad spend during the forthcoming World Cup.

Meanwhile, Nimbus chairman and MD Harish Thawani has also claimed that the DD-Nimbus combine is on course to attaining its determined target. He however refused to give away figures of the revenues garnered thus far.

Media planners claim that C&S channels have traditionally bagged 82 to 87 per cent of the total ad spend, whereas DD has bagged 13 to 18 per cent, a trend that has stayed constant in the last four years.

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