A Team in place, SET safe on ad rates

MUMBAI/DELHI: After a day of high drama when at one point it appeared certain that the Indian team for the Champions Trophy would go sans stars like Sachin Tendulkar, Saurav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid, a resolution was finally hammered out following a global teleconference between the Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI) and the International Cricket Council (ICC) and other Test-playing nations.

The BCCI this evening named a full-strength squad, with Saurav Ganguly as captain, for the September 12-29 tournament. With this announcement, the Sony Entertainment TV India team can finally rest easy and get down to the business of extracting the maximum value out of this tournament, seen as a trailer for the Big One - the World Cup in South Africa next March.

The talk of a B Team going earlier in the day had led to advertisers on board raising the possibility that the terms of the contract with SET India as also WSN being re-negotiated.

SET India ad sales head Rohit Gupta, now can concentrate on wrapping up the 20 per cent or so of inventory on spot buys that still remain open. The presenting sponsor and three associate sponsors have signed on the dotted line. Pepsi is the presenting sponsor, while Hero Honda, Raymond and ICI Paints are associate sponsors.

Gupta clarified that as of now there would not be a fourth associate sponsor as had been mentioned earlier. Sunil Mittal's Bharti Telecom, which had been seen as a possible associate sponsor, had decided to take up a significant number of spot buy inventory instead, Gupta said.

LG India, another global partner is yet to sign on with SET India but now may well be willing to reconsider. According to industry sources, on last count it had conveyed to Sony that it was willing to pay in the region of $ 3000 for a 30 second spot.

According to Gupta, the spot ad rates for the Champions have been fixed at $5,500 (about Rs 267,000) for 30-second spot buys, while the opening pricing for next February's World Cup in South Africa was $7,000 (Rs 340,000) for 30 second spots.

Media reports have put the value of the deal that Sony had struck with main sponsor Pepsi at Rs 300 million entitling the soft drinks giant to spots totalling around 300 seconds per match for both the Champions Knockout series as well as the World Cup tournament in February next year. There are 15 matches in the Champions, while the World Cup brings on air 54 one-day matches, together bringing a total of 69 matches.

This works out to an average of Rs 435,000 per 30-second spot, which is way too high unless there have been other sweeteners that Sony has bunged into the deal.

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