Sunday, March 11, 2007

World Cup: Indian advertising's big moment

Advertisers in cricket-crazy India are gearing up for the World Cup which starts in the West Indies on Tuesday, raising hopes a Sony Corp.unit with broadcast rights in India could get more than $100 million in revenue.The cricket World Cup is considered the mother of all tournaments in India, which has the world's third-largest cable and satellite subscriber base -- at 68million homes, up from 42 million in 2003 when the previous tournament was held.Cricket-themed ad campaigns and promotions of consumer goods, electronics,automobiles and even financial services firms are already on air, with severalBollywood movies also cashing in.
"There is a demand for TV spots after KBC,"said Vivek Couto, executive director at research firm Media Partners Asia,referring to the big-ticket "Kaun Banega Crorepati" show ("Who Wants to be aMillionaire?") on News Corp.'s Star India. "Plus, India is likely to reach atleast the semi-finals." The 51-match series runs till April 28. India, the 1983winners, reached the final in 2003, bringing life in parts of the country to astandstill. Sri Lanka, the 1996 champions, Bermuda and little-fanciedNetherlands are in the same group. PRICEY SPOTS Indian media buyers estimaterates for a 30-second ad spot during the World Cup range from 125,000 rupees to300,000 rupees ($2,821-$6,772), or up to 30 percent more than previously. Thatcompares with about 250,000-300,000 rupees on a single episode of KBC, airedfour times a week on prime time. Sony Entertainment Television (SET), a unit ofSony Corp., which has the broadcast rights to the 2007 World Cup, is forecast torake in about 5 billion rupees ($113 million) in ad revenue in India comparedwith 3.5 billion rupees the last time. SET is reported to have paid up to 2.5billion rupees for the broadcast rights from the International Cricket Councilin 2002. "It is going to be expensive, but there's every reason for it, giventhe economic growth and bigger subscriber base," said Atul Phadnis, chiefexecutive of consultancy Media e2e. "Plus, this World Cup is not just aboutadvertising. We are going to see a spike in adoption of DTH and set-top boxenabled technologies and mobile phone applications," he said. However, someadvertisers are cautious because of recent patchy performances by the "men inblue" and high TV spot rates. "We've had a lot of cricket already and otherexpensive properties," said Manish Porwal, an executive director at media buyingfirm Starcom MediaVest Group. India's advertising market grew 23 percent in2006 to $3.62 billion, and is forecast to expand 18 percent in 2007, MediaPartners Asia said. Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd., Tata Sky, a venture ofthe Tata Group and News Corp., and state-owned Prasar Bharti have DTH operationsand may see greater demand, as will mobile phone firms that provide cricketalerts and updates. "Many advertisers and subscribers are just waiting to seehow India does," Porwal said.

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