New Delhi: With less than a week to go for the Cricket World Cup, Sony Entertainment Television India (SET India), the broadcaster with the rights to telecast the matches in India, faces a unique problem: the withdrawal of a major sponsor.
Reliance Anil D Ambani Group (R-ADAG) had bought 10% of the advertising airtime, signed on as a presenting sponsor, and, according to some estimates doing the rounds in the advertising industry, agreed to pay around Rs50 crore for its association.
SET India has set itself a target of earning Rs300-350 crore from the telecast. A few media buyers who did not wish to be named have claimed that the broadcaster is still to sell 15% of its airtime inventory.
Confirming the development, Sandip Tarkas, head, media, R-ADAG said: “We realized that there was a big mismatch between our commercial expectations and the event.” Executives at SET India refused to confirm the exit of R-ADAG. “We have no comment (on this deal),” said Rohit Gupta, executive vice-president, sales and marketing, SET India. “It is not over yet.” He also insisted that R-ADAG had bought less than 10% of the airtime on offer and that the company had less than 10% of its inventory left to sell.
Tarkas refused to elaborate on his company’s decision. An official at R-ADAG, on the condition of anonymity, said while the company “had paid a premium for presenting sponsorship” it had come around to the belief that “the mileage was not enough to justify the investment”. A media buyer said this could be because of the time of the telecast. “The matches are going to start late in the evening (around 8pm), and we don’t expect viewership to be as impressive as it was in the last World Cup.”