Nithya Subramanian

New Delhi, Feb. 25

THE cricket clash between India and Pakistan last year not only attracted a huge viewership, but advertising rates too reached an all time high. National broadcaster Prasar Bharati, which bagged the domestic rights to the series beginning next month, is anticipating a similar audience and advertiser response this time also.

For the one-day international (ODI) matches, a 10-second spot on DD (Doordarshan) National and DD Sports will be available for Rs 2.5 lakh and Rs 3 lakh respectively. A similar spot for the test matches has been priced at Rs 50,000 on the terrestrial network and Rs 60,000 on the cable channel. Last year, 10-second slots on Ten Sports were sold for anything between Rs 2.75 lakh to Rs 4 lakh.

Media planners said that the differential pricing is because DD Sports reaches out to a more affluent target group and the penetration of the cable industry in the metros is very good.

However, some of them felt that the pricing has been high. "Last year, advertisers who bought spots for a large number of clients were able to negotiate good rates. Also, the deal was good after the Supreme Court directed Ten Sports to share the feed DD. This time an advertiser would have to pay Rs 5.5 lakh for a 10-second spot on DD National and DD Sports, which is higher than last year," said a Mumbai-based media planner.

Nevertheless, the interest among advertisers is not expected to diminish. "There is always interest in India-Pakistan cricket matches played in either of the two countries. Also, there are no other big events happening during the March-April period when the tour is on," said advertising industry officials.

Meanwhile, adding a new twist in the telecast rights controversy, sports broadcaster, ESPN Star Sports (ESS) on Friday asked Prasar Bharati to honour an earlier contract by offering it a one-hour highlights package of all the matches. It said that "legal option could be considered" if the national broadcaster refused its request.

ESS said that it had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Prasar Bharati last year whereby if ESS bagged the rights to matches, it would have to share the live signals for the one-day internationals (ODIs) and provide a one-hour highlights package each day for the test matches. However, if the national broadcaster got the rights, it would have to provide one-hour highlight package for every cricketing day to ESS. Mr R.C. Venkateish, Managing Director, ESS has written to Prasar Bharati, asking it to honour the contract.

Prasar Bharati had refused to provide highlights to any other broadcaster. Mr K.S. Sarma, CEO, Prasar Bharati said, "We are not planning to do so as the earlier agreement was for a four year contract. We have not got that and these matches are being shown after a Madras High Court order."

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated February 26, 2005)
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