Cricket delivers ratings for MAX

MUMBAI: On the ball. That's what the ratings have been for Sony Entertainment's MAX channel as far as the ongoing ICC Champions Trophy tournament in Sri Lanka are concerned. And it is not just cricket where India has been playing that has packed in the numbers for MAX. Cricket related programming (branded Extraa Innings) as well as non-India matches have delivered the goods.

The ratings for the first three matches played (12 to 14 September) which are all that are in at the moment, have thrown up results that are quite heartening for the MAX team. The live telecast of the India-Zimbabwe match on Saturday, 14 September, gave a healthy 6.88 TVR for all C&S homes and was 10 on the Top 100 list. And it is not just in the C&S universe that MAX has stumped the opposition. AC Nielsen's Television Audience Measurement (TAM) data for all TV homes gave MAX an average TVR of 4.08. National broadcaster Doordarshan, which has the terrestrial telecast rights for all matches involving India, was behind with 3.95 TVRs. That must especially have satisfied SET ad sales head Rohit Gupta, who had a hard time of it with LG India, one of the ICC global partners and the only one not to sign on with SET India. LG had conveyed to Sony that it was willing to pay in the region of $3000 for a 30-second spot, which was unacceptable to Gupta. LG had then announced that it would be focussing its spends on DD which offered it a better cost benefit because of its reach.

Sticking with ratings though, even the Sri Lanka-Pakistan match, which was the tournament lung opener, registered a healthy blip on the Top 100, but on the flip side the MAX credo to extend viewer interest beyond India matches appears to have had mixed success. While the Lanka-Pakistan match had a good following, the South Africa-West Indies match on Friday the 13th failed to enter the Top 100 despite being a real humdinger of a match that went down to the wire.

Altogether, live action from the cricket field and cricket-related programmes have bagged 12 positions in the Top 100 for MAX.

Drawing some comparisons, an official release says overall viewership has shown a 32 per cent jump for the channel when compared to the recently concluded NatWest Series of 10 One Day International (ODI) Matches in England that was exclusively telecast on ESPN Star Sports. Across India, MAX reached out to an estimated 29 million individuals, compared to NatWest Series' 22 million viewers, the release says.

The release, which has sourced its data for 4years+ individuals in C&S households, from the 15 main markets, quotes Jain as saying: "It is not just the live telecast, but also Extraaa Innings on MAX which has set records for viewership." Ratings for the India v/s Zimbabwe match touched a high of 6.88, while the non-India matches hit a new high of 2.3. The average for all ODIs telecast in the last one year in India on other channels had non-India matches' ratings between 0.6 and 1.2, while ratings for India matches averaged between 4 and 5.

Jain says there has been a 44 per cent growth in female viewership of Cricket on MAX. "As many as 13 million female viewers watched the first three matches on MAX. This is a huge increase in female viewership when compared to the NatWest Series, which brought a total of 9 million female viewers across ten matches. I would say that the biggest achievement has been in terms of female viewership." Observed Jain, "A rating average of 1.6 in non-India matches and 4.8 for an India match has been unheard of."

"Male Viewership too has grown in a big way," said Jain, adding, "It increased by as much as 23 per cent to a total of 16 million male viewers on MAX from the overall male viewership that the 10 matches of the NatWest Series achieved, which was around 13 million male viewers." "In Calcutta, ratings touched a high of 14 during the India-Zimbabwe match, Jain says.

Extraaa Innings initiative works for MAX:
The critics and the purists may have cringed at the airhead routine of ex Channel [V] veejay Ruby Bhatia and her cohorts on Extraaa Innings, the segments meant added on to the match play to increase the entertainment value of the whole show, but viewers have been kinder. Extraaa Innings pegged a high of 2.8 during the India-Zimbabwe match.

Ad sales head Rohit Gupta had this to say: "Cricket is not sold on ratings alone. We have expanded the viewership base, which is what we had started out to do in the first place. The ratings only prove that we have been successful in our endeavour, which will help to bring newer advertisers to come onto cricket, because it makes a lot more sense to advertise on cricket."

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