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Cricket's first test after IPL amid ad slowdown

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MUMBAI: Cricket‘s ability to hold on to advertising rates in the midst of a slowdown comes to its first test in the India-Sri Lanka series after the lucrative IPL failed to match its last year‘s revenues.

Handset manufacturer Micromax continues to be bullish on cricket, coming on board as title sponsor for the bi-lateral series featuring five One Day Internationals and two T20 internationals beginning 22 July.

Zee-owned Ten Sports revealed the main sponsor but was not willing to spell out the revenues it would be able to rake in from the live telecast of the event. The series that concludes on 7 August will air on Ten Cricket and Ten HD.

Sources said Ten Sports was looking at revenue of Rs 900 million from the Micromax Cup series, but media buyers said that that seemed too high a target. A media report pegged the figure at Rs 550-600 million but Indiantelevision.com found the market estimates too varied to come out with its own valuation at this stage.

Ten Sports, which also holds the on-ground sponsorship rights, has roped in Royal Stag as on-ground associate sponsor and is looking to add at least two more sponsors.

The series, which is the first major bi-lateral series post the IPL, will mark the return of Micromax to the cricket bandwagon. The brand has been investing heavily on cricket as it looks to deepen its association with its core target group, the youth.

Said Micromax Informatics marketing head Pratik Seal said, “The idea behind any sponsorship is to connect with our customer beyond our products offerings and drive our saliency amongst them. We hope to reinforce our brand charisma in both the countries. Being a youth brand, we have identified sports, movies and music as three main passion points for our target group."

Coming first after the IPL that ended on 27 May, Micromax is hoping that the series will grab a lot of viewership. The sponsorship comes in the wake of Micromax‘s aggressive plans to make deep inroads into the Sri Lankan market.

"Micromax has already marked its presence and the customers have widely accepted our products not only in India but in Sri Lanka too and through this sponsorship we expect to further extend our customer engagement in the island country," said Seal.

The India-Sri Lanka series will have to contest for viewership against the Olympics that kicks off on 27 July. ESPN Star Sports is targeting Rs 550 million from the Olympics.

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