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TV ad rates sky-rocket ahead of India, Pakistan CT 2017 final

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NEW DELHI/MUMBAI:  "India vs Pakistan Final... !! All TV execs around the world are now cracking a nice bottle open to celebrate," tweeted former England captain Michael Vaughan after Thursday’s victory of India over Bangladesh in Champions Trophy 2017 semi-final. He wasn’t off the mark as television advertising rates on Star Sports for June 18 cricket final between India and Pakistan are almost 10 times the normal price, according to a media report.

A 30-second spot during the final to be broadcast by Star Sports is expected to cost nearly Rs. 10 million ($155,267), far higher than the Rs. 1 million that advertisers pay on average for most Indian shows, a Reuters report said basing its observations on inputs from people involved in buying ads.

An earlier India-Pakistan clash on a cricket field was ranked amongst the six most-watched sporting events with billions of fans watching the game on TV, OTT platforms and in the stadium.

Pakistan, the lowest-ranked team at the Champions Trophy 2017 tournament, upset host and favourites England to set up a final clash with defending champions India, feeding frenzy for a game that commands a fanatical following in the Indian sub-continent and among its diaspora spread across the globe.

Most of the TV spots for the final, to be played in London, were pre-booked with firms such as Nissan Motor, Intel Corp, Emirates, Chinese mobile maker Oppo and Indian tyre-maker MRF signed up as commercial partners for the tournament, the Reuters report stated. Quoting broadcast industry people familiar with such developments, the report added fewer than 10 per cent of the slots are left for the final.

Companies still wanting to air their ads will be paying a higher rate than those who pre-booked, said the person, who did not want to be named, citing business confidentiality, according to the wire agency report.

Before the Champions Trophy, the last time India and Pakistan played a one-day international was during the 2015 World Cup. That game, won by India, was one of the top-six most viewed sporting events, along with the soccer World Cup final and Usain Bolt's 100-metre sprint at the 2012 Olympic Games, the sports broadcasting industry source told Reuters.

India and Pakistan have already met during the tournament's group stage, with India winning easily. More than 200 million people watched that game, according to Indian media, citing BARC India. For Sunday's final, viewership is expected to be 30-40 percent higher.

However, not everybody is as optimistic on TV advertising rates sky-rocketing just because it’s an India-Pakistan match.

Contacted by Indiantelevision.com, Dentsu Aegis Network South Asia chairman and CEO Ashish Bhasin admitted that the final will have a high viewership, but wasn’t sure whether TV ad rates would increase. “I don't think (the match) will make any significant impact (on ad rates) because anybody who has put advertising revenue would have already put it up,” he explained, adding most of the advertising budget for tournaments like these would have already been spent.

Echoing somewhat similar sentiments Madison Media Omega COO Dinesh Rathore said  ad rates admittedly will be higher but “people would have bought it in advance.”

Pointing out that he wasn’t sure if Star had kept in reserve some ad inventory to be sold at a premium later, Rathore, however, explained that Sony always kept some inventory (about 100 seconds) in reserve for IPL matches to be sold later at a higher price. Still, he maintained that if Star has some reserved inventory, the premium could be three to four times higher than the normal rates.

It is also not clear whether pubcaster Doordarshan that also will air the final is equipped to cash in on the situation by doing some aggressive marketing over the weekend.

An analysis of BARC data done by Indiantelevision.com highlighted that Champions Trophy 2017 helped Star Sports 1, Star Sports Hindi and Doordarshan National  to enter the list of Top 10 channels across all genres (all-India; rural and urban) in Week 23 of 2017 (Saturday, 3 June 2017 to Friday, 9 June 2017). CT 2017 broadcast rights holder Star shares a clean feed of the matches with pubcaster DD under government-mandated regulations.

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