Home / News / India /  Diwali may steal T20 ad thunder
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The month-long International Cricket Council (ICC) Men’s T20 World Cup, which begins in Australia on 16 October, may get a lukewarm response from traditional advertisers, media buyers at top agencies said.

Disney Star’s Star Sports channel will broadcast the cricket tournament in India and the subcontinent. All matches will also be live-streamed on the Disney+ Hotstar online platform.

Experts focusing on sports properties said an early Diwali on 24 October may see many traditional advertisers exhaust their ad budgets in the run-up to the festival and could give the world cup a miss. However, they added that new advertiser categories looking for instant reach are likely to emerge to fill the vacuum. Yet others said India’s disappointing performance in Asia Cup and other tournaments might influence advertisers.

Navin Khemka, chief executive of MediaCom, South Asia, said the timings of the World Cup and the festival of Diwali seem to have clashed.

“For all the traditional advertisers like FMCG, auto, e-commerce, festival campaigns will be over on or before Diwali. After that, for them, it really doesn’t matter because they know their sales peak during this time. So, a shorter festival window and early Diwali could be the reason why advertisers will take time to warm up to the world cup," Khemka said.

Although Khemka said his agency has a world cup sponsor from its portfolio of clients, he declined to name the brand.

A Star Sports spokesperson said the channel is witnessing “very strong interest from advertisers across categories and our ad inventory is filling up quickly", without disclosing names. “Brands across categories are showing interest, including auto, consumer durables, BFSI (banking, financial services and insurance), beverages, fast-moving consumer goods, e-commerce, fintech, edtech, and gaming, among others," the person said.

The world cup will be broadcast on Disney Star (Star Sports and Disney+ Hotstar) in seven languages to reach out to a wide audience base, the company said.

K. Srinivas Rao, chief investment officer at Wavemaker India, said ICC advertising partners have first right of refusal, and most of them are in discussions to come on board, and one or two sponsors are already likely confirmed. He did not name the sponsors.

Jai Lala, chief executive of media agency Zenith, said that the impact of global inflationary pressures had caused some undercurrents in advertising in India.

“The T20 world cup requires commitment (from advertisers). Of course, the passion around it and everything are pegged on how India progresses. If, initially, India doesn’t do well, there could be a big risk element. It’s a definitely very high-risk, high-gain kind of event from an advertiser’s perspective," said Lala.

If India doesn’t perform well, it will have repercussions.

“But the sentiments aren’t bad. Categories like auto, consumer durables and brands that have big upcoming launches are the ones which are looking at these events," he said, adding that the South Africa-India series, as well as the ongoing Australia-India series, could be quite lucrative for advertisers because these are short tournaments and they fall before T20 world cup.

Yet, consumer packaged goods are not really looking at these events to get exposure, and even edtech and other tech companies, too, have withdrawn a little bit, he said. Coca Cola, though, is an official sponsor of all ICC events, including the T20 world cup, a deal it signed in 2019 for five years.

“The earlier euphoria, which we saw last season and during the IPL, has diminished," Lala said.

Khemka agreed that startup advertising had slowed down because their funding slowed down, but new categories are emerging.

“The good thing about cricket is that at any given point in time in India, there are some categories that want to build quick reach and response curve, and they want to interact with the masses and the younger population," he said. “So, cricket is not category-dependent, and some category or the other will come and ensure that we are able to buy inventory on the game," he added.

More recently, advertisers on cricket include paan masala brands, fantasy gaming apps and betting apps.

“T20 world cup has drawn greater attention from audiences and offers brands the perfect platform to reach out to highly passionate and engaged viewers. It also provides an unparalleled scale in terms of reaching more than 400 million viewers on television, as witnessed in the previous edition, and is the most sought-after event this festive season," the Star Sports spokesperson said.

MediaCom’s Khemka said the world cup would make sense for categories that are not bothered about the festival hype and want to sustain their campaigns beyond the festival. “I don’t see any reason why the world cup will not do well. The only thing is that this time’s world cup will not be able to cash in on the festival demand like last year’s IPL and ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021, which were both back-to-back and timed so well before Diwali.

Shuchi Bansal contributed to this story.

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