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Neo Sports and ESPN excited about next cricketing wave
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Cricket will rule the Indian television once again from September 2009 to March 2010. Broadcasters - Neo Sports Broadcast, ESPN Software India and Taj Television - are licking their lips at the prospect of getting a juicy slice of between Rs 450 crore and Rs 650 crore of advertising in this period.

Shashi Sinha, chief executive officer (CEO), Lodestar Universal, says, "In the entire year, cricket telecasts will attract ad revenue of around Rs 1,200 crore. The number has never crossed Rs 500 crore in previous years."

Some broadcasters are looking to sign lucrative sponsorship deals for telecasts. Neo Sports Broadcast, which runs Neo Cricket and Neo Sports, has struck bulk advertising deals with Tata Do Co Mo, Hero Honda and Hewlett-Packard for all upcoming cricket series between October 2009 - March 2010 for which it holds the broadcast rights.

Sources say Tata Do Co Mo, one of the recent entrants in the GSM cellular services market, has committed investments worth Rs 50 crore for all the forthcoming four series. Neo Sports is also in talks with Tata Motors and Hyundai to get on board the fourth anchor sponsor for all these tournaments series. The four anchor sponsors together are expected to shell out Rs 120-140 crore.

Neo Sports has exclusive rights to show India-Australia one day international (ODI) cricket series, India-Sri Lanka ODI and test series, India-Bangladesh test series and India-South Africa ODI series and test matches.

Prasana Krishnan, chief operating officer (COO), Neo Sports Broadcast, says, "These cricket series are being played between two or three nations and there is no fear of India getting knocked out early. We are confident of getting good advertising revenues and of course viewership."

Despite the slowdown in the economy, the second edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), earned around Rs 400 crore in television advertising for broadcaster Multi Screen Media (MSM) India, which owns SET Max. Desiring to echo the same success, Neo Sports is also negotiating for ad rates of Rs 2.5-3 lakh per 10 seconds, which is 25 per cent less than what SET Max charged for IPL earlier this year.

Apart from Neo Sports, ESPN Software India, which owns ESPN, Star Sports and Star Cricket brands in India, is also excited about the Champions Trophy and Champions League, which also falls in the same 'cricketing period'.

The ad spot rates for Champions Trophy and Champions League on Star Cricket are pegged at around Rs 2-2.5 lakh and Rs 3-3.5 lakh per 10 seconds, respectively. Earlier, Airtel has signed a five-year deal with ESPN for the Champions League T20.

Sanjay Kailash, executive vice-president, advertising sales and new media, ESPN Software India, says that spots during the telecast of Champions League matches are selling for at least Rs 2 lakh for 10 seconds, while those for the Champions Trophy are going for at least Rs 3 lakh.

According to Ajit Varghese, managing director, Maxus, a media buying agency which is part of GroupM, the viewership for the Champions Trophy could be between 4 and 5 depending on the performance of the Indian team.

Varghese is also bullish on the ability of the Champions Trophy to attract advertisers and audiences because it will see the participation of the top eight cricketing nations and is similar to a mini World Cup. He is not as bullish about the Champions League, a new concept where the top two teams from the Twenty20 leagues of several countries will face off.

Sejal Shah, vice-president, India Media Exchange, the media buying arm of Publicis Groupe, is convinced that the Champions League will find enough takers, given the hype around IPL. "After that, the next best bet would be the Champions Trophy. I expect ratings for both events to cross 4."

Sanjoy Chakrabarty, COO, Dentsu Media, says, "The tri-series would garner television rating points of 3 or 3.5, while a big-ticket event such as the Champions League or Champions Trophy should score at least 4-5."

Chakrabarty adds that Ten Sports' ad rates for the tri-series are anywhere between Rs 1-1.5 lakh for a 10-second spot, though Rukin Kizilbash, general manager, Taj Television, that owns Ten Sports, declined comment.
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