Television

Ten Sports nets Rs 1.45 billion in ad revenues from Indo-Pak series

When it comes to cricket there is only one way ad revenues can go, that is up. And if India is hammering the opposition, particularly of the Pakistani variety as was witnessed in the just concluded ODI series, that‘s just icing on the cake.

And so it has proved for Pakistan cricket telecast rights holder Ten Sports.

Information available with Indiantelevision.com indicates that Ten Sports, which aired the recently concluded India Pakistan series, managed to net around Rs 1.45 billion for the current series. This is a roughly 21 per cent increase over revenues collected from the landmark India-Pakistan series of 2004 when Ten made around Rs 1.2 billion.

Big Money Deals: If one sets comparative benchmarks in terms of the recent deals done on cricket telecast, Pepsi, Hero Honda as co-sponsors for the ODI series would have forked out between Rs 80-100 million each. As associate sponsors Maruti, Hutch, HLL would have forked around Rs 75 million each. Sify.com would have paid around Rs 10 million to be associated with the Dartfish package.

On the distribution front, Ten Sports was able to increase penetration as it added 800 operators into the system. Whatever increases were got in the subscriber base was through new connections. Sources spoken to maintain that there were no increases in declarations from the existing operators like Siticable, Hathway and Incablenet. Prior to the series, declared connectivity stood at 4 million.

After the series, the Set-Discovery One Alliance took that figure to around 5 million. Ten Sports is expected to have mopped up around Rs 200 million in terms of additional distribution income from this series.

Since the announcement that DD would not carry live coverage of the test matches came just a few days before the start of the series, the channel could not switch off the existing cable operators who carry it and ask for more declarations. As per Trai regulations a one month switch off period is needed.

What gains were made happened in the micro interiors and small towns. Many rural networks did deals only for Ten Sports which ranged from a three month period (quarterly) to a year. They had a choice of either three channels or the entire second bouquet. Ten Sports is the driver channel in the SET-Discovery One Alliance second bouquet which is priced at Rs 44 per subscriber a month.

Ten Sports is said to be targeting a 10-15 per cent growth in distribution on an event to event basis. In terms of events, in addition to cricket, it is also counting on the French Open to help in this regard. Of course its bread and butter property is World Wrestling Entertainment which sees viewers tuning in week in and week out.

The big question then of course is, to what extent was Ten Sports negatively impacted by the "must share clause" that the government recently introduced? As a result of this (and after much petitioning before the Supreme Court), Ten Sports was forced to share its telecast feed with the national broadcaster.

To mitigate its losses, the apex court did offer some relief to the Dubai-based broadcaster that was in two parts. Firstly, DD had to pay Rs 150 million to Ten Sports as compensation. The court further decreed that DD must carry the "dirty" Ten Sports feed. What this meant in effect was that it was the Ten Sports logo and signal (ads and all) that was carried in toto on the national network.

Industry sources maintain that in a best case scenario, if Ten Sports had exclusivity (and enough lead time to sew up distribution deals with cable operators), it would have gained a further $6-7 million (Rs 270-315 million) in a year on a sustained subscriber basis.

Therefore, the shortfall for Ten on the distribution side (after factoring in the payout of Rs 150 million by DD) was Rs 165 million.

Upside on ad sales: There was a big upside though, and that was in advertising sales. According to what advertising industry sources have told Indiantelevision.com, total revenues the channel extracted from the five ODIs (shared feed) was 15 per cent more than what it would have achieved had there been exclusivity. The sources note that it is important to keep in mind the fact that not only did DD pay Ten Sports Rs 150 million to carry the feed but it could not put in any ad insertions, not even for Fourth Umpire. Planners say that Ten Sports benefited from DD also carrying dirty feed of ODIs despite the fact that a lot of the deals had been done last year on the exclusivity understanding.

Most advertisers did deals before the mandatory sharing was announced. So for them it was a brilliant ROI that DD also aired the ODIs. It gave them reach in areas where Ten Sports may not have been present at no extra cost.

At the same time, clients that had not done deals earlier would have paid a premium for spots i.e. around 30 per cent more. Ten Sports sold anywhere between Rs 350,000 to 450,000 for a 10 second spot on the ODIs depending on the day, consumption and the client. Extending that logic therefore, for the test series too if DD had carried the dirty feed Ten Sports would have made 15 per cent extra.

To conclude, despite the lack of exclusivity, the Indo-Pakistan series has given Ten Sports significant ramp-ups on the ad sales side and a moderate rise on the distribution front. Add the court-decreed Rs 150 million that has gone into its coffers and the income picture only gets brighter.

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