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Fevered pitch

There is no doubt that cricket continues to remain India’s leading passion. ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 started with a bang as TV viewership of the opening India-Bangladesh match touching a peak television rating or TVR of 12.2%, according to TV viewership measurement agency, TAM Media Research.

business Updated: Feb 27, 2011 23:12 IST

There is no doubt that cricket continues to remain India’s leading passion. ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 started with a bang as TV viewership of the opening India-Bangladesh match touching a peak television rating or TVR of 12.2%, according to TV viewership measurement agency, TAM Media Research.

Overall reach was higher than ICC CWC’s 2007 opening match as well as its eighth India-Bangladesh match. Reach – viewers watching a programme for at least a minute – for the CWC 2011 opening match across ESPN, Star Sports, Star Cricket and DD1 was a whopping 7.69 crore viewers, much higher than the 2007 matches.

“We expected this,” said Sanjay Kailash, EVP, advertising sales and new media, ESPN Software India. “The tournament is being played in India, which creates a stronger connect, touch and feel with viewers.”

He added that the TVR of the ICC CWC 2011 opening match, across the top six metros, was substantially higher than IPL 3’s opening match last year. Peak viewership for the former was 12.48% and TVR of 7.8% (TAM). This exceeded IPL 3’s opening match by 11%, said ESPN. Overall, the first five matches were watched by 53% or 3.8 crore people in the six top metros, said ESPN, quoting TAM. Including the warm-up matches and opening ceremony, viewership till the fifth match was 4.2 crore in the top six metros.

aMap, another TV viewership measurement agency, observed that the market share of the top general entertainment channels experienced a 15% drop on the day of the opening match. As there are no regular soaps or serials on a weekend, the audiences tuned into the match broadcast channels on that day, aMap said. http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/HTEditImages/Images/28_02_11_business25a.jpg

Several brands that have associated either directly or indirectly with the ICC CWC 2011 are excited about the big response. Yahoo!, its official online sponsor, said the response to its initiatives has been excellent. “Consumer interest is at its peak. They are swarming Yahoo! for updates and analyses, and exclusive photographs and video content. Cricket fanatics have also thoroughly enjoyed ‘Predictopus’, the prediction game that allows competitive predictions on the matches,” said Nitin Mathur, senior director, Yahoo! India.

Though Yahoo! did not want to divulge numbers, an industry source said that on the day of the opening match, the Yahoo! official website, iccevents.yahoo.com, drew 1.3 crore page views and 20 lakh unique users. ESPN claims its own site drew over 85 lakh page views for the first match.

Equally excited is Vikram Mehra, CMO, Tata Sky. “Sales of our base set-top boxes and HD (high-definition) boxes have gone up substantially. Our six million-plus subscribers have also responded very well to our free Activ Sports features on this World Cup,” he said.

The new Tata Sky TV ad campaign is based on generic cricket. It talks about Activ Sports, which is offering CWC-related services, including video views from multiple camera angles for which there’s a tie-up with ESPN and additional Gujarati or Bengali commentary. The same ad campaign will promote Tata Sky’s HD set-top box and services next month.

DTH player Sun Direct is equally pleased with people’s responses to its ICC CWC-specific promotions. CEO Tony D'Silva said, “This World Cup is a treat for not only our new acquisitions but all our existing subscribers too who prefer to buy sports channels during events rather than as a perennial subscription.”

Advertising by mobile phone service providers is second in the top 10 commercial ads list. Shreesh Joshi, CMO, mobile services, Bharti Airtel, said, “The response to our CWC mobile phone services has been outstanding across voice, text, data and video services. Versus normal cricket tournaments, we’re seeing a much bigger lift currently.”

Travel portal Yatra.com has introduced cricket gaming on the website. "In the game, we are engaging customers to experience the simplicity of booking flights and hotels for cricketers,” said Pratik Mazumder, Yatra’s head - marketing and strategic relations.

LG allocated Rs 70 crore to the tournament, of which Rs 64 crore is for 15 lakh units of exclusive cricket merchandise. “In focus will be our LCD TVs and mobile phones, especially smart phones. We are looking at a substantial increase across verticals and are targeting 100% growth in flat panel display TVs over the same period last year,” said L.K.Gupta, CMO, LG India.

Global social mobile gaming company PlayUp has launched Cricket World Cup-specific games PowerUP, Next Wicket and 6UP. Rajat Kulshrestha, CEO, PlayUp India, said, “During IPL 3, we got 18,000-20,000 plays per match. Now we are getting over 40,000-45,000 g across our three games. During IPL 4, we will launch two more games.”

Marketing and media experts say that today’s spectators are not mere match viewers. They want to celebrate match moments in their own way and interact with the event in different ways. Brands are agreeing, given the responses they are getting. Cricket fever is up and expectations are that it will continue to be high during IPL 4 too.

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