Mumbai: India and South Africa, the world’s first- and second- ranked Test cricket teams, are set to meet in a Test, and one-day international series next month and broadcaster Neo Sports Broadcast Pvt. Ltd, which has the telecast rights, is looking to make a killing.
For starters, the company is positioning the series as the World Championship with the usual disclaimers—because there is no such thing as the World Championship Series, and the International Cricket Council (ICC) is just beginning to consider reviving a Test championship.
Neo is also investing Rs2 crore in building up the series and has got Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan to endorse it in a special 30-second television commercial, developed as part of the co-promotion deal for Ram Gopal Varma’s film Rann. Bachchan speaks both about the film and the cricket series in the television spot.
According to Abhishek Verma, marketing and communications head of Neo Sports, the plot of Rann—which deals with fights between media houses—has obvious parallels with the series.
The series will include two Test matches and three one-day internationals.
Neo is selling ads at Rs3-3.25 lakh for a 10-second spot, and an executive at the channel who did not want to be identified claimed that half the inventory has been sold.
The co-presenting sponsorship rights for the series are priced at Rs6.2 crore while associate sponsorships are available for Rs4.1 crore.
Tata Indicom has become the co-presenting sponsor for the series and JK Cements Ltd is one of the associate sponsors.
Neo Sports’ aggressive pricing strategy follows the success of the recently concluded India-Sri Lanka series.
“For the India-Sri Lanka series, we saw television ratings rise to touch 8 for most one-dayers. We expect this series to generate similar viewer interest, since it features two of the world’s top teams,” said Neo Sports’ Verma.
Media buyers expect the series to be a hit with viewers. Harish Shriyan, managing partner of media specialist OMD, said that his agency is optimistic about the series and will look to buy time for some of its clients.
“Advertisers who’ve not been able to book enough inventory on the Indian Premier League (IPL) because of the high price tag and budget constraints will now have a chance to be part of a premier cricket series,” he added.
Prasanth Kumar, managing partner (central trading group), GroupM India Pvt. Ltd , expects the series to deliver a rating of at least 4 or 5.
According to him, Rs1,000 crore was spent on cricket in 2009.
“This year, the advertising spend on cricket could go up to Rs1,400 crore,” he added.
Neo had made Rs205 crore during the India-Australia series held in October-November. Neo also mopped up Rs175 crore during the India-Sri Lanka series with Tata DoCoMo as the main television event sponsor, a Neo Sports executive had told Mint earlier.