?Cashing in on the hype surrounding Sachin Tendulkar's farewell Test matches, broadcaster Star India has raised ad rates by almost 30-40%. Advertisers and media buyers ET spoke to said while interest among the advertising fraternity is high for the Master Blaster's 199th and 200th Test matches, to be played in Kolkata and Mumbai this month, they said advertisers may not be willing to cough up the premium being demanded.
Typically, broadcasters charge anywhere between Rs 30,000 and Rs 50,000 for a high-interest Test match series. But for the series against West Indies, Star is demanding anywhere between Rs 60,000 and Rs 1 lakh per 10 seconds.
"Star is asking higher rates (for the two matches) and there's a certain level of interest among advertisers. But it's not a big frenzy ... it's generally not boom time in advertising and rates could have been very low for the upcoming Test series had it not been for the Sachin factor," says Ashish Bhasin, chairman India & CEO South East Asia at media buying firm Aegis Group.
Advertisers, many of whom are still negotiating deals with Star, said ad rates would have to be realistic. "There's a premium being charged, but we don't know if it is justified. Viewership will certainly be high because these are Sachin's final Tests, but if he gets out cheap, it will fall. We are still negotiating," says Shubhodip Pal, chief marketing officer of mobile phone maker Micromax.
Star, which has invested heavily on cricket acquisitions, is trying to use the opportunity to make the best of Tendulkar's swansong. Sanjay Gupta, COO at Star India, says: "The frenzy among sports fans for Sachin's last two matches has the same appeal compared to an India final in the World Cup."
While Gupta declined to comment on the ad rates being demanded, he said advertisers such as telecom services provider Airtel, tobacco-to-consumer goods firm ITC, insurance firm Bharti AXA and confectionery maker Perfetti van Melle were among the ones who had picked up sponsorship and spot buys for the series.
Last month, Star India had acquired title sponsorship rights for all international cricket matches to be played in the country till March 2014 at 2 crore per match - this was 40% lower than what telecom services provider Bharti Airtel had paid for the same sponsorship last year, an indication that the advertising market has dried up to a large extent, hit by the economic gloom and dwindling interest in sponsorship rights.
Star India has acquired the rights for a period of six months till March next year. With the matches at Eden Gardens and Wankhede, Tendulkar will also become the first cricketer ever to play 200 Test matches.
The rates are still significantly lower than what an IPL T20 match commands. IPL broadcaster Multi Screen Media had charged anywhere between Rs 4 and Rs 4.5 lakh per 10 seconds of ad time for IPL 6, while for the final four games of the T20 tournament, the asking rate shot up to Rs 15 lakh per 10 seconds. Ad rates for the final of IPL 5 were around Rs 10 lakh per 10 seconds.