Neo Cricket gains over GECs in advertising pie

Sports channels are the true gainers in the stalemate between television producers and the Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE). With re-runs blunting fare on Hindi general entertainment channels (GEC), advertisers are moving money to sports channels as there were signs last week that viewers are switching over.

With the stalemate hitting the GEC, corporates appear to be queuing up to advertise on cricket telecasts. Neo Sports has attracted sponsors for the India-England series at significantly higher rates than what it just received for the concluded India-Australia series.

Though cricket continues to be the religion of the masses, a GEC that showcases ‘saas-bahu’ serials is the largest receiver of advertising revenue. It is also the most expensive genre for investment.

Neo Sports had expected to get Rs 285 crore for the entire season of cricket, from October to December. It roped in deals worth Rs 100 crore for the India-Australia series. But increased corporate interest in cricket and the GEC imbroglio could add to the numbers.

For the India-Australia series, the channel had eight sponsors. Airtel, Hero Honda and Toyota were principal sponsors, bagged for Rs 8-10 crore each. The five associate sponsors, at Rs 4-6 crore, were Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), Pidilite, HDFC Standard Life, Nivea and Perfetti. Each 10-second spot was hawked at Rs 1 lakh.

Sponsorship rates have jumped for the ongoing India-England series. Hero Honda, Airtel and Microsoft have been roped in as principal sponsors at Rs 12 crore each, while RBS and Pidilite continue to stay on as associate sponsors.

Speaking to us, Abhishek Verma, head, marketing and communications, Neo Sports Broadcast, says, “Presently, the most effective and efficient property on Indian television is cricket. We added two sponsors, Microsoft and Proctor and Gamble.”

It is learnt that the new batch of associate sponsors have come on board at Rs 8-12 crore each, a 100 % jump over rates for the earlier match. Each 10-second spot is being hawked for Rs 2.5 to 2.75 lakh, again a 150% hike over the previous match.

In an interesting twist, rival sports broadcaster ESPN Star Sports has also decided to piggy-back on the success and has been roped in as an associate sponsor for the India-England telecasts. The Champions League, to be broadcast on ESPN, will be played from December 3-10 and ESPN will use the time to draw in more viewers.

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