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Sports least affected by TAM data suspension, say experts

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MUMBAI: The suspension of TAM data for nine weeks till 8 December will not have much bearing on the way advertisement deals are done, at least as far as sports broadcasters are concerned, according to industry officials.

The reason why sports broadcasters would go unscathed is due to the fact that ratings for cricket properties are less static with the exception of big ticket events where ratings can change dramatically like ICC Cricket World Cup or an India-Pakistan match. The unavailability of viewership ratings data will not change the decision-making process of advertisers as they also have historical data at their disposal.

Cricket has a strong pull particularly among males and youth which forms a bulk of the viewership and is a critical target audience for most advertisers.

TAM had decided to stop reporting weekly viewership data for a nine-week period beginning 7 October till 8 December following an agreement between Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), Advertisers Agencies Association of India (AAAI) and Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA) in order to avoid discrepancies in viewership data which would have arisen due to transition from analogue to digital cable.

According to a top executive from a leading media buying agency, the decision to suspend viewership data for an interim period will not impact cricket.

ESPN Software India executive vice president-sales Sanjay Kailash said, “Cricket ratings according to me have been static and there is not much room for error. For advertisers, cricket offers a very involved audience. They also look at engagement, impact and reach.”

The only big ticket cricket property that falls during the period viewership data will not be available is the first three test matches of the India-England series comprising four Tests, five ODIs and two T20 matches.

“The suspension of TAM data shouldn’t affect cricket as we have past data to look up to and make decisions. Ratings for cricket don’t change dramatically unless it is an India versus Pakistan series or a ICC Cricket World Cup. It also depends on who wants it more. Whether it’s the broadcaster or the advertisers will depend on the demand and supply issue,” the media buying executive who did not wanted to be named said.

The executive also explained that cricket buying is not just about ratings and there are other parameters that they look into while buying cricketing properties.

Very few clients advertise on cricket based only on ratings. In fact, many advertisers invest in cricket without ratings. While ratings is one of the factors, advertisers also look at other things like brand affinity, cumulative reach and impact. Cricket is a high-impact programme.

Zeel chief sales officer Ashish Sehgal said, “I don’t think sports will be impacted much because unlike GECs where deals are done on the basis of CPRP (Cost per rating programme) cricket is not just sold on the basis of CPRP. The unavailability of data will impact planning process. It is a function of demand, supply and ratings.”

Adds ESPN’s Kailash, “As far as we are concerned, we have not been impacted (due to suspension of data). We will not re-work any deals.”

Though ad sales for sports properties particularly cricket will not be affected, advertisers are not too happy with the situation as their planning has got affected with the suspension of viewership ratings. The decision to suspend viewership ratings was that of the broadcasters.

The advertising fraternity supported the “unilateral” move after a lot of heated discussions. “We supported this because we felt there was a genuine need since the four metros are moving towards digitisation. But this decision has come at a time when the festive season is around,” the media agency executive said.

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