It's full house on ad inventory front for cricket on MAX

MUMBAI: The Champions Trophy is well under way and the Indian 'A' team with the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Saurav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid, and new sensation Mohammed Kaif all there and strutting their stuff in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

For SET MAX this tournament, seen as a trailer for the Big One - the World Cup in South Africa next March - looks like providing some healthy numbers as far as advertising revenue is concerned. And despite global sponsor LG India's constant refrain that Sony's rates were way too high, it has not had a negative impact on MAX's ability to fill its inventory. LG has in fact put all its TV ad spend on cricket on national broadcaster Doordarshan. According to industry sources, LG India had only been willing to pay in the region of $ 3000 for a 30 second spot, something that was not acceptable to Sony.

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.

According to data supplied by, for the period from tournament kick-off day on 12 September to 15 September, Pepsi has taken the biggest chunk of ad spots (2910 seconds) on MAX. This was to be expected since the soft drinks major is the presenting sponsor. As far as the three associate sponsors Hero Honda, Raymond and ICI Paints are concerned, it is the paints company that is second with two ad campaigns running on MAX - Dulux Supreme 3 in 1 (670) and Dulux Velvet Touch (620) - for a combined 1290 seconds. Raymond is third with 1,200 seconds.

Surprisingly, the third associate sponsor Hero Honda with 240 seconds is way below in the rankings at 21, even behind sister company Hero Cycles which had 250. Sony officials explained this as being due to the fact that in the period under review, Hero Honda was still to kick in its campaign as a new ad was being prepared. And even for the ads which had been on air, all the secondage was on Saturday's (14 September) match when India defeated Zimbabwe. The officials stressed that subsequently there has been a marked increase in ad secondage for the motorcycle major.

Another point to note is that despite not being an associate sponsor, Bharti Telecom's Airtel ad secondage is right up there at 1,100. SET ad sales head had earlier told that while Bharti would not be coming on board as an associate sponsor, it had decided to take up a significant number of spot buy inventory instead.

When queried as to how a company that was not one of the sponsors could have such a high secondage, SET officials clarified that it was on like categories that there were restrictions and not on general ones. In the case of Pepsi for instance, rival Coke could not take up more than the secondage that Pepsi had, they informed.

And as per the restrictions imposed by the ICC's ambush marketing clauses, there is no advertising by TVS Victor motorcycles (Sachin brand ambassador) or Samsung India, which had roped in seven Indian team members for its campaign.

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