Television

Zee Sports delivers cricketing goods

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The Boys in Blue head into battle against Sri Lanka, the match to be played in Ahmedabad tomorrow, on a high note as regards the form book.

And if they can keep the brouhaha over l?affaire Saurav Ganguly from getting to them, would be expected to come out on tops in this, the last of the three-Test series. So how has it been thus far for Subhash Chandra?s first significant foray into serious India cricket broadcast?

What the telecast of the three Tests offered Zee was the opportunity to MAKE A STATEMENT OF INTENT to viewers and the industry. What those who matter (as in those who put in the advertising rupees) would have been curious to see is what Zee was able to bring to the table in terms of broadcast quality, innovative presentation and the like. On the other hand, for many viewers it would have been a first look at the new sports kid on the block.

The first Test, even if it hadn?t been severely curtailed by the rain gods, would in any case have offered too short a notice to get any kind of action plan in place. So, it was effectively from the second match on that the real test of Zee?s capabilities vis-?-vis sports broadcast were on show.

In terms of presentation and look and feel, the channel has come through clearly as on par with the best that an ESPN Star Sports or Ten Sports could dish out. In fact, one refreshing part of the studio presentation is that the sports jockey (as the channel has chosen to call their studio show presenters) is actively participating and in fact moderating the flow of conversation that the expert panel is involved in. Her presence therefore, is not a bimbo quotient add on but intrinsic to the show?s presentation style and composition.

And what about revenues? On the money part, however, there is not too much that Zee can hope to write home about from this series. And we for one do not think that Chandra is really looking at it from that perspective at all.

Still, just how much Zee might make and what this series will generate in total ad sales deserves a closer examination.

What could have been the maximum that this series would have generated in ad sales? Well, if ESS had the rights we estimate that it would have pulled in just under Rs 200 million from a full three-Test series. National broadcaster Doordarshan, on the other hand would have been expected to pull in somewhere in the region of Rs 330 million (click here for detailed break up). In-stadia ad sales would have got in another Rs 100-120 million. The total in ad sales therefore that a full series would have generated is Rs 630-650 million.

However, it is pertinent to note here that barely one-and-a-half days of play were logged in for the Chennai Test. DD will therefore probably rake in somewhere in the region of Rs 250 million when the accounts are tallied after the Ahmedabad Test is over.

So how much is Zee likely to make out of this cricket series, for which it paid Rs 195 million for satellite rights? Add in another Rs 2.3 million as production and marketing costs that means a little under Rs 220 million that Zee will have paid out for the full telecast. Looking at the credit side, the new sports channel is unlikely to have had any worthwhile takings out of the first Test, so it is more likely that it was offering spots gratis to those who committed a reasonable rate for the remaining two Tests.

What is a reasonable rate? Well, since Zee is just starting out, even Rs 25,000 per 10-second spot would be tough to sell. So one would assume that a mean of Rs 15,000-20,000 would about be what the spots have gone for. If that assessment is correct, Rs 60-80 million would be the revenues that Zee generates from this series.

But it has to be reiterated here that it is not money as much as awareness of its channel that Zee will be looking to achieve with the telecast. So, how much money it makes is not really the point of issue. After all, Chandra has always believed in being the long distance runner rather than champion of the 100 m dash.

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