Four months of non-stop cricket, a second-string team and inconvenient match timings appear to have taken a toll on the viewership of India's tour to the West Indies.
Ad tariffs have plunged to Rs 1 lakh for a 10-second spot — a sharp drop compared to the Rs 8 lakh during the just-concluded Indian Premier League.
"The interest is slightly less but the ratings are fairly consistent despite the half-good team," said Atul Pande, CEO, Ten Sports, the broadcasters for the tour.
The absence of stalwarts like Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Sachin Tendulkar, Virendra Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Yuvraj Singh has also resulted in dwindling viewer interest.
Suresh Raina is leading India on the first leg of the tour comprising a Twenty20 match and five one-day internationals."It is not the best team. And, after the underperformance of IPL matches, it was not even the best time to start the series.
"Usually, no major advertisers come to invest during this month except for the beverage advertisers," says Rajni Menon, associate vice-president, Carat Media, a company that buys ad spots on television channels and newspapers for its clients.
Cricket fatigue has also hit the advertisers.
"The last four months of cricket have seen tremendous spells of money in ad-slots, and now it's a complete overdose. Advertisers have no money for cricketing events with usual or low television rating points (TRPs)," says Menon.
"There is a lot of political drama outside of cricket, which is distracting the already bored cricket audience," says Santosh Sood, independent media consultant and former CEO of Rediffusion Y&R.
Experts say the ad rates for the second half of the series may fall even further, and the broadcaster may struggle to sell spots during the Test matches, as these will take place around the same time as the Wimbledon, which has a big viewership in India.
Ten Sports, however, is confident that the Caribbean series will fetch good returns.
"We are confident the series will meet our expectations," says Pande.