The Supreme Court barring Prasar Bharati from airing important sporting events of national events including cricket matches live on private cable and DTH has immensely benefitted Star India and could be one of the key reasons for the network hiking ad rates for the upcoming India-Australia matches. This will have a direct impact on both ad rates and exclusivity of Star India as no longer will viewers have the option of watching prime sports events on DD nor will advertisers have the option to reach out to the cheaper option of DD. Earlier we had reported that Star had quoted Rs. 11.75 lakh for 10 seconds for T20 matches and Rs 9.5 lakh for 10 seconds for ODI matches. According to industry sources it has come down to Rs. 7-8 lakh after negotiations.
Few weeks earlier, the Apex court made it clear that while the feed of a sporting event of national importance has to be shared mandatorily with Prasar Bharati, the public broadcaster cannot utilise it on a notified channel which has to be compulsorily carried by private distribution platforms.
As a result Prasar Bharati will not be able to air games of national importance on a channel like DD 1, which is notified as a must-carry channel for all pay TV (cable and direct-to-home) operators, according to the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995.
On the other hand Star India’s ad revenues remain unhurt with advertisers having no option but to go to the network to buy ad spots. Earlier advertisers would opt for cheaper ad rates of DD through which they could get access to a wider set of audience. Also now there is no viewership overlap between DD and Star India giving the latter leverage to up the ad rates.
When contacted for the same, the Star India didn’t respond.
However, Anita Nayyar, CEO, India & South Asia, Havas Media, agrees that Star India will be in a monopolistic situation to hike rate but there is a limit to which the market can absorb given the recent economic hurdles of demonetisation followed by GST that it faced . “How much can the market absorb is the question? There is the one-off case of India Pakistan matches (which is a different ballgame) which give assured viewership and advertisers account for it. In the case of India-Australia matches there will be opportunities because maybe the overall sponsorship is higher. There will be lot of clients who will want to buy HD as it’s cheaper.”
But Dinesh Vyas, VP, PHD, thinks otherwise though he agrees that DD’s chances of making money has been affected due to this judgment. “There is no direct correlation between the rates and Supreme Court barring DD from airing sports. The latter definitely loses revenue. Star India will certainly hike up a certain amount because of the acquisition of IPL but I believe they will certainly offer better packages in rate if on-air and digital are bought together.” He had earlier mentioned that media planners will be willing to pay some amount of premium because Australia is a stronger team than Sri Lanka and the matches coincide with the festive season.
The India-Australia ODI series (5 matches) starts on September 17 at 1.30 pm while the T20 series (three matches) starts on October 7 at 7 pm.