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ESS sells 80% of its ad inventory for T20 WC, ropes in 8 sponsors

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NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: Sports broadcaster ESPN Star Sports has sold 80 per cent ad inventory for the upcoming ICC Twenty20 World Cup, a top company official revealed.

The broadcaster has signed up eight broadcast sponsors which includes Reliance Communications and Havells as joint presenting sponsor besides Tata Teleservices, Tata Motors, Pepsico, Hyundai Motors, Nokia, and Pernod Ricard as associate sponsors.

Of the eight sponsors, four have bought sponsorship for the entire cricket season on ESS which includes the on-going India-New Zealand series and the upcoming tournaments like Champions League Twenty20, India-England and the India-Australia series.

The broadcaster is though selling the high-profile India-Pakistan series separately since the Indian cricket board is yet to finalise the itinerary. The series is most likely to be scheduled in December in between the split tour of India-England series which will begin in November and stretch all the way till January.

ESS is eyeing two more sponsors, one joint presenting and associate sponsor each. The sponsors will consumer 80 per cent of total ad inventory.

It has also managed to rope in 10-12 spot buyers who will consume the remaining 20 per cent inventory.

"We expect to close a few more within the next two weeks for a sellout. We are leveraging all platforms including the digital media," ESPN Software India MD Aloke Malik told Indiantelevision.com on the sidelines of a press event to announce the coverage plan for the tournament.

While Malik refused to divulge details about revenue target, sources say that ESS was eyeing Rs 2.4 billion from the T20 WC which is an almost 50 per cent jump from what it earned two years back when the event was held in West Indies.

However, not everyone is as enthusiastic as ESS is. According to an executive from a media agency the clients this year have been a bit cautious while spending on big properties due to a gloomy economic climate.

"I would be surprised if they earn Rs 240 crores (Rs 2.4 billion) as I don?t think the advertisers have the same apetite for cricket this year. You should also understand properties like T20 World Cup have the risk factor attached to it since we don?t know how India will perform," the executive stated.

An independent assessment would, however, be tough to calculate as ESS has done an annual deal with some of its sponsors for the cricket calendar.

Meanwhile, ESS said that Star Sports and Star Cicket HD will showcase live in India all the 27 matches during the event from 18 September to 7 October. Anticipating a lot of interest, ESPN STAR Sports will additionally telecast the India-Pakistan warm-up match scheduled for 17 September.

The sports broadcaster has also planned a simulcast of all India matches, semi-finals and the final with Hindi commentary on its ESPN channel. All matches of the championship will also be streamed on espnstar.com with a five minute delay.

Malik claimed that ESS has sold the syndication rights of ICC World Twenty20 to 218 territories across the world.

ESS has lined up a star studded panel of 18 commentators for this marquee event. ESS?s presentation will feature experts from nine of the twelve participating countries.

In India, ESS?s presentation team will include stars like Sourav Ganguly, Sanjay Manjrekar, Nasser Hussain, Wasim Akram, Ramiz Raja, Tony Greig, Ian Chappell, Mark Waugh, Russell Arnold, Ian Bishop, Pommie Mbangwa, Damien Fleming, Simon Doull, David Lloyd, Harsha Bhogle and Alan Wilkins. ESS?s Jatin Sapru will be the in-studio host along with former English cricketer Dermot Reeve playing the role of an analyst.

The broadcaster will use 27 cameras including super slomo and ultra slomo will be used in every match to give the best viewing experience from the three venues in Sri Lanka.

ESS will also feature a new Touch Screen cricket presentation tool in its analysis shows around the live coverage. This will bring in a new dimension to the way the game is analysed and presented so that the fans can get a fresh perspective of the game.

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