Champions Trophy propels Max into Top 10

MUMBAI: If there is one truism about television in India, it is that the only sure way to break Star Plus' monopoly on the ratings is to have India cricket. Such is the case with India cricket.
Tam data for the period 15/10/06 to 21/10/06 shows that India playing England on 15 October 2006 came in seventh in the Tam Top 100 C&S 4+.

It managed to get a rating of 5.8. It also appears at positions 21 and 22 with ratings of 4.8 and 4.5.

Starcom's Manish Porwal says that whenever India plays in a multi team tournament the round robin matches not featuring India get a ratings that are 1.5 times higher compared to events that do not feature India at all. This explains why the Australia versus West Indies match got a rating of 3.6 and is at number 33. The England versus Australia match got a rating of 2.5. The Sri Lanka versus Pakistan match got a rating of 3.1. Extraaa Innings, which is Max's wrap around show, also finds a mention twice.

However, the theory of 1.5 times more for a non India match in the league stage only applies for as long as India is in contention in the tournament. Therefore, from an advertising standpoint, it is fortunate that India versus Australia was the last league match. India's awful performance and hence elimination would have had a much bigger impact on viewership if it had been held before other league matches. As it is only three matches (the two semi finals and final) are now affected.

How do advertisers view India's exit? Porwal says that cricket friendly brands would have taken into account the scenario of India not qualifying for the semi finals. He is satisfied with the ROI achieved thus far. "It has been what we have expected. I will say that there has been a loss of profit with India not getting through into the last four. There has not been a loss per se.

"That is because brands like Western Union would have done internal costing looking at different scenarios before putting their money on the tournament. Having said that, there will definitely be a backlash on the ratings that the semi finals and final get."

Sony executive VP Rohit Gupta concurs on this point saying that if India had been there in the semi finals and final you might well have seen a rating of 7-8. Now one could see a rating of around 3 for the semi finals. It could go up for the final depending on which teams qualify. He adds that when you include Sab, which had a simulcast of India's matches with Hindi commentary, the match between India and England gets a rating of nearly seven.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) CEO Malcolm Speed's stand as far as a potential situation of India not making the last four has been that Indians care for quality cricket. As long as people care sport will not die. The ICC's hope therefore is that the television ratings as well as on ground attendance will not be affected too badly as Indians would want to see quality international cricket. The coverage being given in the newspapers and television indicates that.

Gupta, meanwhile, is most satisfied on how the non India matches have fared pointing out that it was a big improvement over the ratings that the non India matches got for the Champions Trophy in 2004. In that tournament as well India was eliminated early in that case by Pakistan.

R Gowthaman, Mindshare MD South & West and Unilever South Asia, which handles media buying for Pepsi and Hero Honda, two of the ICC's global partners, was not so positive however. He says that the Champions Trophy has disappointed in the cost per ratings point (CPRP) area. A lot of the matches finished early. For instance the match between West Indies and Sri Lanka finished in 50 overs.

"This means that by 6:30 pm when viewing should be on the up the match is over. So you cannot air spots in the most impactful time. Then the ratings were not as high as had been hoped. The ratings should have been more even for the non India matches given the fact that Extraaa Innings is meant to build up momentum. Cricket is a hyped up property. You hope that it will do well in the ratings area but its performance has been below par just like the Indian teams. If you look at it, cricket's ratings have been on the decline over the past couple of years."

Another problem for Pepsi is that it used a very specific cricket centric campaign (the Blue Billion). The aim was to express support for the Indian team which then failed to perform. This raises the question of whether or not it should continue with that campaign which has now become irrelevant with India exiting the event.

LG marketing head Sandeep Tiwari on the other hand is satisfied at the response to the event. He points out that since LG is a global brand there will be a benefit no matter which teams win the event or makes the final. So if Australia wins then LG's visibility down under will increase, he says.

That of course is not the case with an Indian brand. Also LG did not use cricketers in its campaign. It used Tom and Jerry to celebrate the Diwali festival. So it is not unduly concerned about India going out early as it has not used cricket in the campaign to build an emotional connect. He adds that if you look at the Champions Trophy and the World Cup together, then while the former delivers a 30 per cent impact the latter delivers a 70 per cent push for the brand. That big push of course will come next year in March when the World Cup takes place in the West Indies.

Interestingly despite reports about stadiums not being full for the ongoing Champions Trophy Tiwari is satisfied at the turnout. He points out that the England Australia encounter had 50 per cent occupancy which he as a marketer feels is adequate to get the brand message across. On television too the delivery is what was projected prior to the start of the tournament for him.

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