Television ratings have been plummeting ever since India's 'dream team' exited from the cricket World Cup in the West Indies. Advertisers have been the worst hit and players' endorsements are under review.
SET Max, the official broadcasters of the Cup, recorded TRPs of 5.46 per cent when the World Cup started on March 13, going up to 7.25 per cent during India's first match against Bangladesh March 17.
Despite the opening loss, TRPs shot up to 8.39 per cent during the India-Bermuda match. But ever since India's debacle against Sri Lanka, the TRPs have plunged to 0.71 per cent, according to an estimate by TAM Media Research, a Mumbai-based TV viewership analysis firm.
This has not only given sleepless nights to TV channels and the advertising industry, it has also sent ripples across the Indian cricket industry with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) introducing some major guidelines to put a break on the endorsement spree by cricketers.
Global food and beverages major PepsiCo, which is famous for using cricketers for its ad campaigns, has brought out a new TV commercial after India's exit. It still uses the spirit of cricket and the World Cup but has refrained from using any cricketer.
"Pepsi had launched its campaign that showcased the Blue Billion's drive to make the Indian team win and reflected a powerful expression of a billion people trying to almost tell the team that they must conquer and win the match," Vipul Prakash, executive vice-president marketing, PepsiCo India said.
"However, in the light of India's performance, there are some changes as far as advertising is concerned. Our new commercial echoes the positivity that characterises today's youth and does not have any celebrities," he said.
The companies as well as the advertising firms also got a big jolt as the Indian cricket board whipped up the entire endorsement issue with the introduction of certain provisions. These include prior approval by the player from the board before endorsing a brand. Also, players now cannot endorse more than three brands and a company cannot use more than two players in one ad campaign.
"If these conditions (by BCCI) have to be implemented, then I'm sure prices for the top performers would go up and maybe the companies would look more and more at film stars," said Sundar Raman, managing director, MindShare, a leading media planning agency.
"India's exit caused a loss of about Rs 1.53 billion in terms of viewership," said Sundar Raman.
According to certain estimates, Sachin Tendulkar is the most favourite with advertisers and earns a whopping Rs 400 million a year, followed by captain Rahul Dravid who draws over Rs 140 million, Dhoni Rs 80 million per annum from endorsements while Sourav 'prince of Kolkata' Ganguly draws a neat Rs 50 million.
The ICC this year partnered with LG Electronics, Pepsi, Hutch and Hero Honda for the World Cup. All of them have suffered huge losses because of India's pathetic showing - and early exit.
"It is not possible to quantify the loss since our association with the game has been on a long-term basis - for the past seven years - and not linked to any player or team," averred Girish V Rao, vice-president, sales and marketing, LG India.
"But we are unlikely to renew our contract with ICC, which ends with the present World Cup," Rao added, admitting that there has been a drop in the viewership after India's exit.
But if top echelons of the industry are to be believed, this phenomenon is temporary, especially in a country where cricketers are revered as gods.
However, Lloyd Mathias, director, marketing (mobile devices) Motorola India, said, "There no doubt that there has been a huge fall in viewership. But cricket is India's national passion. No other sport in India enjoys the same excitement. So the passion is going to come back as soon as our players start playing well again."
Agrees Sundar Raman: "There has been a kind of efficiency loss for the advertisers but as far as viewership is concerned, interest levels are going to come back once the team is back in form."