Legend: Sachin Tendulkar in action against the Windies. PHOTO: SUBIR HALDER
Tickets for the Test match between India and West Indies at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai were sold out within hours. Not surprising, considering this was the last match of batting legend Sachin Tendulkar. KyaZoonga.com, the official ticketing partner of the Mumbai Cricket Association, reported overwhelming demand. "The first hour of sales saw a surge in traffic as a record 19.7 million hits were logged," says Neetu Bhatia, CEO, KyaZoonga.com. Indeed, fans from across the globe - including the US, UK and West Asia - booked tickets for the event.
Little wonder, then, that advertisers and broadcaster Star Sports made the most of the opportunity to cash in on the popularity of Tendulkar during his farewell series, with matches in Kolkata and Mumbai. Consequently, television advertising rates for a 10-second spot doubled to over Rs 1 lakh. "The response has been higher than one would expect for an India-West Indies Test match. A lot of brands, especially those endorsed by Sachin, wanted to be associated," says Navin Khemka, Managing Partner, Zenith Optimedia, a media planning and buying agency, adding that this could also be for emotional reasons.
Others support Khemka's assessment. "WeChat has always believed that sports is a great connecting thread for the youth. We believe this momentous occasion could well be one of the most emotionally watched sports broadcasts in the country," says Rahul Razdan, Head of WeChat, a mobile text and voice messaging service. In fact, like many other brands, WeChat has come up with special offerings for the occasion. For instance, it has released special 'Master Blaster' animated stickers on WeChat for Sachin's army of fans. This also shows that the impact of the event is being felt across media platforms. "Surround media is also riding on the hype. Advertisers who cannot get into the main event are looking at news channels/radio to associate with the event," says Khemka.
Several advertisers, over 30, booked multiple spots with Star Sports - Hindustan Unilever led the fray. This is unusual for a cricketing event other than the Indian Premier League (IPL). Despite Sachin's popularity the ad rates are still much lower than the IPL. During IPL-6, for instance, Multi Screen Media (MSM) charged up to Rs 4.5 lakh for a 10-second spot. For the final, some advertisers even paid as much as Rs 15 lakh.
During the 2011 World Cup, which India won, some advertisers paid up to Rs 5 lakh. But things changed after India's debacle against Australia in 2012. Rates have since hovered around Rs 50,000 for a 10-second spot.
The audience, or viewership, ratings for Tendulkar's farewell series had not been released at the time of going to press. Typically, IPL matches have garnered viewership of over 4 Television Rating Points (TRPs), the highest among all cricketing events.
(Follow the author on Twitter: @ShamniPande)