Indian cricket is finding itself in a tight spot right now but its position as the Number 1 sport in India is not under any threat. While football, Formula One and polo are becoming popular with some advertisers, no brand manager can afford to look away from cricket and cricketers.
That is bad news for those who run football, tennis, hockey and other sports in this country.
“Ad budgets for cricketing events will be downsized for some time (following the spot fixing scandal in the domestic T20 league) but cricket can't be substituted (by any other sport in India),” said Amit Tiwari, director and country head, media, Philips India, a big sports advertiser.
“It is fatuous to compare cricket with any other game in India. The recent spot fixing controversy will take away the gloss for some time and advertisers will turn cautious but I don't expect money to fly off to other games,” said Latika Khaneja, director, Collage Sports Management, a company that manages the brand endorsement deals of several sportspersons across sports.
Just compare: the sixth season of the domestic T-20 game, which began on April 2, recorded 100 million viewers in the opening week. The Hockey World Cup in 2010 had 13 million viewers.
The final match of the ICC World Cup (2011) that India won was watched by 135 million fans across India whereas the FIFA World Cup final in 2010 notched up a reach of about 10 million people across six metros.
Then, other games will also find it difficult to displace cricket as the most preferred advertising vehicle. "Most firms decide their budgets for cricket first and then distribute remaining funds,” said Naveen Khemka, media buyer at Zenith Optimedia.