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DD-Nimbus sells World Cup cricket presenting sponsorship rights

MUMBAI: Hearing MAX and the DD-Nimbus combine tell it, it would appear that both sides are well on target to achieve their sales targets for the forthcoming World Cup cricket 2003. Nimbus chairman and MD Harish Thawani had earlier claimed that DD would get Rs 2.1 billion worth of ad sales.

The Nimbus sales team seem to be projecting a confident face despite the initial reservations expressed by media planners that the target amount of Rs 2.1 billion seemed to be too optimistic. Media specialists had claimed that DD would get anything between Rs 1.5-1.8 billion. However, many including Lodestar Media's executive director Shashi Sinha feel that the terrestrial channel will do better than expectations.

Top media executives have confirmed that Nimbus has sent out a list of the properties that have been sold out as of 6 January 2003. Nimbus also seems to have addressed the concerns of media planners and buyers by reducing the number of spots available per match from 6,000 to around 5,400. Sony's MAX will have commercial time of 4,500 to 4,800 seconds per match. The MAX team has been claiming that it has carefully designed the advertising sales package to ensure that advertisers will experience minimal clutter and viewers will have an enriching and satisfying experience.

Nimbus chairman and MD Harish Thawani claims: "All our efforts in the pre-sales phase have paid rich dividends in terms of actual conversions. Without giving away any specific details, I can assert that we have received an enthusiastic response from the advertisers."

Nimbus has intimated the agencies that all the pull-throughs have been sold and listed out the other properties that were still up for grabs. Media sources say that Nimbus has closed bookings for the following properties.

Flexi-buys

Nimbus had earlier claimed that advertisers could avail of ‘Flexi-buys’ wherein they could pick & choose the matches; top it up with individual match buys and even specify position in matches.

The current status is as follows:

1) Out of the three available match clusters namely the pool, Super Sixes, semi-finals and finals, everything has been sold except for one-two matches of the Super Sixes. Advertisers buying 100 seconds or more in these clusters have obtained an overall volume discount ranging betrween 7.5 per cent to 12.5 per cent in addition to the pre-negotiated rates.

2) Out of the 'pick-n-choose' option, the only matches that have failed to click seem to be the India-Namibia match (Sunday, 23 February 2003) and India-Holland match (Wednesday, 12 February 2003).

Broadcast sponsorships

Out of the total of ten broadcast sponsorships; four presenting broadcast sponsors (Rs 108.8 million per sponsor) and six associate broadcast sponsors (Rs 78.4 million each), Nimbus seems to have sold six sponsorship positions including all the presenting broadcast sponsorship positions.

The categories who seem to have taken the above properties include the following: two-wheelers, TV manufacturers, soft drinks, telecom, banking and insurance and automobiles. Clearly, the brands such as Hero Honda, LG Electronics and Pepsi would feature in the above list. One would recall that LG Electronics had chosen to go with DD during the recent Champions Trophy in September 2002 as it wasn't getting cost-effective rates from MAX.

Nimbus' Thawani, however, refused to divulge any specific names: "There is cut-throat competition in certain sectors such as the banking/insurance sector and the telecom sector. We wouldn't like to release any details of the marketing plans and initiatives of these sponsors. Most probably, the plans would be unfolded by the companies as soon as they are ready with the support activities," Thawani adds.

MAX has already roped in Pepsi, Hero Honda and two of Hindustan Lever Limited (HLL) brands as sponsors. SET ad sales head Rohit Gupta, however, has not revealed the name of the two HLL brands.

“HLL will finalise and let us know within a week which of the two brands they want to advertise on our network during the World Cup matches,” Gupta has been quoted as saying in media reports. Thawani maintains that HLL has been speaking to DD-NImbus and is confident that the FMCG giant can't afford to ignore the mass penetration of DD.

“We have already consumed 60 per cent of our inventory,” said Gupta. He confirmed that five out of the six live properties including action replays, fall of wickets, pull throughs, fours and Master Blaster have already been sold to various sponsors. “Sixes is the only one in the 'live' properties that is open for sponsorship,” he added.

Extraa Innings will be sold separately in order to rope in the one-off advertisers who might have mega-budgets to spend on the 'live' matches. “We might look at several sponsors and encourage non-regular categories to adopt the off-beat and innovative programming. Telecom, four wheelers, television and white goods are the categories we are targeting for this segment,” said Gupta. Another SET official claims that the categories sold by both the parties would give an indication of how each channel is viewed by the advertisers and media specialists.

The media sources also state that the Nimbus team has not managed to get a good response for the pre-match programming on DD. Nimbus officials had earlier claimed that the world feed would start 15 minutes before the 'live' match. DD is developing a 1-hour capsule prior to the 'live' match and a 30-minute capsule after the match. MAX has nearly two hours of pre-match and post-match programming.

Buoyed by the enthusiastic response, the Nimbus sales team seemed to have gone on an extended leave for the New Year. None of them were available till 6 January. The MAX team also seems to be confidence-personified. However, the media specialists and advertisers seem to be the ones playing the waiting game till rates become more cost-effective!

World Cup Cricket 2003: DD and Nimbus claim victory...in advance!!!

MAX confident of selling inventory by mid-Jan '03

Interview with Nimbus chairman and MD Harish Thawani

Interview with MAX executive vice president and business head Rajat Jain

 

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