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India vs Pakistan World Cup 2019: Match cancellation due to rain to be Rs 137.5 crore blow

Anwesha Madhukalya     June 14, 2019

Cancellation of the India vs Pakistan ICC World Cup match can be a Rs 137.5 crore blow, impacting broadcaster Star Sports and big advertisers such as Coca-Cola, Uber, OnePlus and MRF Tyres. Advertisement slots for the game are being sold at a 50 per cent premium for the India vs Pakistan match. After the cancellation of four matches in the ICC World Cup 2019 so far due to rains, fans are anxious about the fate of the upcoming India-Pakistan match on Sunday, June 16.

To begin with, India vs Pakistan match is likely to be one of the most-watched matches in this World Cup. So, it's the best opportunity for advertisers to maximise reach, but it comes at a huge cost. Star Sports is reportedly expected to earn Rs 137.5 crore from the India-Pakistan match alone through advertisements. The channel has about 5,500 seconds of total inventory (the time slot they can sell to advertisers).

The rates for these slots are usually in the range of Rs 1.6-1.8 lakh per second, but for India vs Pakistan the cost has spiralled to Rs 2.5 lakh per second. But, that hasn't discouraged the advertisers. In fact, there's a rush.

India vs Pakistan World Cup 2019: Rain god could play spoilsport as both sides get ready for mother of all battles

Around 40 top advertisers including Uber, Coca-Cola, Amazon, OnePlus, MRF Tyres and PhonePe have already signed up for the slots. According to media agency Carat India's senior executive Vinita Pachisia, there might not even be enough ad inventory left with Star Sports, the official broadcaster of the tournament to be sold for the India vs Pakistan matches. The broadcaster had sold off most of the inventory much in advance, which meant the advertisers interested in last-minute booking had to pay even higher price. 

"Even if there is inventory left, it may be sold at 50 per cent higher rates than the current prices," Pachisia told BusinessToday.In. "The inventory on World Cup was being sold as packages, which include all matches (India and non-India) customised as per brand requirements or outlays available," she added.

But what happens to all the money advertisers spend if the match gets cancelled due to rain? It depends upon the package the advertisers have purchased. Those who are supposed to play their ads on the live programme and not the analysis and highlights suffer the most. The time slot they have purchased gets carried forward to another match, but quite obviously the reach of an India vs Pakistan match cannot equal the match of let's say India vs Bangladesh.

A clause in their contract ensures the carry forward of the time slot.  "The broadcaster tries to use the missed inventory in the matches scheduled for later dates, on a like-to-like basis. This means that if an India match is cancelled, the advertiser can opt to use that free commercial time (FCT) on another India match, and same goes for a non-India match, FCT can be booked on another non-India match, provided there is inventory available on later matches," said Pachisia.

In some cases, a reconciliation takes place at the end of the tournament and any inventory which is left unutilised is not billed to the client, according to Pachisia. As for the broadcaster, an insurance clause covers the loss of revenue but only if not a single ball is played.

India's match against New Zealand was also one of the four matches that was called off due to the rains. The number of washouts this World Cup is more than the previous washouts of 2 matches each in the 1992 and 2003 World Cup editions. 

Weather forecasting platform AccuWeather has predicted chances of rains in Greater Manchester on June 16. The Old Trafford Cricket Ground, the venue of the India-Pakistan match, is situated in this county. As upset fans criticised the ICC for not factoring in reserve days, Chief Executive Dave Richardson said in a statement, "Factoring in a reserve day for every match at the World Cup would significantly increase the length of the tournament and practically would be extremely complex to deliver." He also added that even if reserve days were factored in, there was no guarantee that it would not rain on those days.

The ICC announced Star Sports as its broadcasting partner in 2014. In a statement, the council awarded the audio-visual rights for all ICC Events from 2015 to 2023 to Star India and Star Middle East.

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Also read: Advertising spend in India to rise by 11.4% to Rs 69,700 crore in 2019: Dentsu Aegis report

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