Brian Lara is blazing away and Sachin Tendulkar is ready to fire. As the World Cup hots up, there’s a mad scramble for action on the screen — both big and small — in the city.
To cash in on the Cup craze, television companies have rolled out sops, restaurants and hotels hold out the promise of “unrestricted viewing pleasure” and cellular operators are busy providing scores on the move. The result: sales of television sets, both in the premier and price-sensitive segments, have trebled in the past seven days and the number of ‘hits’ for cricket-related service on both Hutch and Airtel have reached finger-point frenzy.
“The past 10 days have seen a tremendous surge in sales. From a daily average of 15 to 20 TV sets from our two counters, it has shot up to around 50. And we are all praying for India to do well, so that the market meets its target,” says Narendra Pagaria of Swar Sangam, adding that the TV trade in town has set a Cup target of 75,000 sets, way above its monthly average of 20,000.
Everyone — from students seeking their own “14-inch colour” for as low as Rs 6,000 to restaurateurs on Park Street serving it up for the cricket fever — is on a buying spree. “From portable sets to the giant screen sets of 44 and 53 inches, there seems to be a demand for all the categories priced between Rs 6,000 and Rs 1.45 lakh. And this time, the winner is clearly the flat-screen TV sets,” says Jiten Chawla, of Cams Corner, on Camac Street. The concept of the second, often small, TV at home has also caught on big time, this time.
For those denied the luxury of being glued to the big screen, at either home or hangout, the cellphone is proving to be the best Cup comrade. Officials at Airtel and Hutch confirm the small-screen craze. “People have lapped up the GPRS service with action replays from World Cup matches and we expect the numbers to go up once India makes the Super Six. The daily SMS traffic has doubled to four lakh on match days, apart from a sudden rise in demand for voice response and other services,” says Sunil Sood, chief operating officer, Hutch.
Airtel, which has recently launched Speak2Ur Service for cricket scores, has already received around 50,000 to 60,000 unique calls for Cup info. “The SMS-based games and quiz bonanza, plus the latest cricket updates have clicked in Calcutta,” says Deepak Gulati, chief executive officer, Bharti Mobitel.