The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Politics at play sends cricket ratings sliding

New Delhi, Oct. 3: Cricket board politics and the Indian team’s consistent mediocre performance has taken their toll ' the men in blue are simply not as attractive anymore.

It is a trend reflected in falling TRPs, less advertising revenue and declining viewership.

Media planners say TRPs for cricket matches have plummeted to an all-time low with a corresponding reduction in advertising revenue.

Worse still, the trend is likely to continue unless the team gets its act together and puts some riveting performances on display.

According to Vikram Sakhuja of Mindshare, one of the more prominent media planners, the advertising collections in cricket are linked to the team’s performance.

“The viewership ratings have fallen along with the spot buying rates for matches. All this is directly linked to the team’s performance and related factors,” he says.

Sakhuja says the TRPs, that were as high as 17 to 18 during India’s Pakistan tour last year and average around 10 to 11 for cricket matches, have fallen to about 3.05.

However, India-Pakistan matches are natural crowd-pullers and India’s last face-off was with lowly Zimbabwe.

Similarly, earnings during matches during the Indo-Pak series were over Rs 2.5 lakh for every 10 seconds.

The rate has now fallen to less than Rs 1 lakh a second.

Ashish Kaul, senior vice-president of the Essel group that includes Zee Telefilms, insists that the bitter fight for control of the cricket board, which saw the game caught in court play, has “messed up” cricket beyond repair.

“They’ve been washing dirty linen in public. Such messy affairs have a direct relevance to how the audience views cricket. We have been saying it for a long time. The days of big money in cricket are long gone,” says Kaul.

“The ratings have fallen,” agrees Gopinath Menon of TBWA-Anthem.

It is, however, too early to accept Zee Telefilms chief Subhash Chandra’s dooms-day prediction that there is “no money in cricket anymore”.

Experts say the trend will reverse the moment players start performing well.

“These trends are temporary,” says L.V. Krishnan of Tam Media Research. “The Indian team has bounced back after each such failure. The moment they do that, ad revenues will increase.”

Even Menon, who admits that endorsements have hit “rock bottom”, says this is only a temporary phase.

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