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Radio stations look to cash in on cricket fever

Radio stations look to cash in on cricket fever
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First Published: Thu, Mar 03 2011. 10 12 PM IST

Tuning in: Kapil Dev at the launch of an Internet cricket radio channel. PTI
Tuning in: Kapil Dev at the launch of an Internet cricket radio channel. PTI
Updated: Thu, Mar 03 2011. 10 12 PM IST
The cricket World Cup is generating huge viewer interest and sponsorships for television broadcasters. And radio operators don’t see why they should be left out of the hoopla.
Radio Mirchi, owned by Entertainment Network (India) Ltd, has entered into a content tie-up with Cricket Radio, part of the Dubai-based Channel 2 Group.
Tuning in: Kapil Dev at the launch of an Internet cricket radio channel. PTI
Former cricketer Kapil Dev, who led India to a World Cup win in 1983, will be a part of Radio Mirchi’s programmes centred on the tournament—such as Paaji da Jawab Nehi, Paaji Agla Match Ka Scene Kya Hai and Paaji Ki Class—and play his favourite songs for listeners. Paaji is an honorific that Dev is known by.
Tapas Sen, chief programming officer at Radio Mirchi, said the channel is in the process of signing up with Cricket Radio for other cricket stars as well. “We may extend this partnership on other fronts also,” he said.
The channel claims a 20% jump in advertising in February over its average numbers.
“Ad inventory-wise, we are going full,” said Hitesh Sharma, chief operating officer at Radio Mirchi. “Some of our big advertisers are Panasonic, Pepsi, Lays and LG. A good amount of our money comes from brand integration... For instance, with PepsiCo, we had a number of cricketers such as Dhoni and Sehwag in our studio and they played music as jocks on 15 and 16 February.”
The World Cup began on 19 February and will end on 2 April.
BIG FM 92.7, the radio division of Reliance Broadcast Network Ltd and an official partner of the World Cup, said it has increased its ad rates for the duration of the tournament by 50-60% for a national media deal.
Soumen G. Choudhury, business head of BIG FM, said one of the channel’s cricket programmes ties up the game with Hindi movie actors. Listeners can sign up for teams named after actors, such as Akki Devils and Bebo Royals.
“If SMS data is (anything) to go by, we now have 1.8 lakh registered users across our network for the “Bollywood Ka World Cup” game. All this in fewer than two weeks of the game going live on-air,” said Choudhury.
Radio City 91.1, owned by Music Broadcast Pvt. Ltd, has roped in big advertisers such as Hyundai Motor India Ltd, Life Insurance Corp. of India and Singapore Airlines for its cricket-related properties.
Ashit Kukian, chief operating officer, Radio City, said the station has brought in Ravi Shastri, a former cricketer and now a commentator, and sports journalist Ayaz Memon for post-match analysis.
The channel has also introduced a capsule called PubliCity Ka Strategy that will invite listeners to give their opinion on the day’s game.
Red FM Network, which runs Red FM, said cricket’s been a top priority at its station the past two months. B. Surendar, senior vice-president and national sales head, Red FM Network, said the timings of the World Cup matches are radio-friendly. “Add to this the fact that mobile phones have become the main instrument for radio consumption and not transistors.”
Brands that regularly associate themselves with cricket on Red FM have raised their advertising budgets by up to 100% for the World Cup, he added. “We’re not television, so the game is on a different scale. But we have definitely seen revenues growing sharply across multiple categories during this time, and a good part of it can be attributed to cricket,” he said.
Manoj Malkani, vice-president at media buying company MPG, part of French communications group Havas SA, said some sponsorship deals are priced at Rs 40-50 lakh around cricket properties on radio.
“Of course, the sponsorship includes advertising, brand mentions by RJs (radio jockeys), brand integration, etc., but it’s still huge money,” he said. Malkani estimates at least a 20% jump in overall radio revenues.
As for Channel 2, the group launched an Internet radio channel for cricket along with the World Cup, www.cricketfreeq.com, which will feature former crickets Dev, Sunil Gavaskar and Sir Clive Lloyd as expert commentators offering ball-by-ball updates and analyses.
Amit Tripathi, director, Cricketfreeq.com, said ad rates on Internet radio are comparable with that on regular radio stations.
anushree.m@livemint.com
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First Published: Thu, Mar 03 2011. 10 12 PM IST