While broadcaster Star India must wait till September before it starts airing the remainder of the 14th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), it is coming up with another blockbuster cricketing property in a week's time.
Star Sports will start airing the Word Test Championship (WTC) Finals scheduled between June 18-22 where India will face New Zealand.
And the broadcaster is expecting strong response from both advertisers as well as viewers.
"After a long wait of 144 years, a world champion for tests will be crowned and this makes the WTC Final a marquee property and advertisers’ interest in marquee properties have always been high. We are expecting the WTC Finals to be the most-watched game, keeping in mind the weekend and also a prime time slot – the attention and pent-up demand is something advertisers are capitalizing on," Anil Jayaraj, Executive Vice President, Star Sports told Moneycontrol.
He said that they have sold out most of their inventory for the inaugural WTC Finals.
The categories that have shown interest in these grand finals include the who’s who of advertisers - auto and ancillaries, EdTech, construction, gaming, durables, online payments, beverages, and financial services.
"We have onboarded 16 sponsors and over 30 other advertisers with still some time to go for the ultimate test," said Jayaraj.
While Star Sports is upbeat about the upcoming cricketing property, experts say that in terms of advertising it will be lower than IPL and T20 World Cup, which is likely to take place between October 18 to November 15.
According to Sandeep Goyal, Chairman, Mogae Media, a Mumbai-based marketing and communication agency, Star India is likely to earn around Rs 90 crore from the WTC Finals in terms of ad revenue.
Explaining further, Karan Taurani, VP, Elara Capital said: "An IPL does around Rs 3,000 crore for 60 matches, which on a per match basis comes to about Rs 50 crore per match. And the T20 World Cup, which is 45 matches, costs around Rs 20-odd crore. They (Star India) would do lower than the T20 World Cup (for WTC Finals)."
He expects ad revenue to be in the range of Rs 15-20 crore on a per day basis for the WTC Finals 2021.
Talking about ad rates, Taurani said that "the amount of inventory available for a test match is almost double of what an IPL match would have.
"Pricing is one fourth of IPL. But because of double time, per day, overall ad revenue realised is 40 percent of IPL'
For IPL 14, Star India was charging around Rs 14 lakh for 10 seconds.
While WTC Finals 2021 is not as big a property as IPL, the expectations are high because it marks the return of live cricket after the suspension of IPL 14 due to rising cases of coronavirus, said Jayaraj.
"WTC Final is the culmination of a two-year long competition with over 50 tests played around the world. The expectations are high as India could be the first team to be crowned champions across all formats. This could also be (Virat) Kohli’s first ICC trophy as a captain. WTC Final is on the prime-time slot, closer to the weekend, which is a big positive in terms of viewership for us," he added.
Goyal also said that there is a fair amount of interest in the WTC Finals 2021. "If India seems to be winning, viewership will peak. It will depend entirely on whether India is winning."
Jayaraj drew parallels with the India-England test series which took place in India between February-March this year.
"Team India has been drawing attention towards test cricket with their superlative performance. First with their win in Australia and then their victory against England at home. Their performance during the India-England series resulted in receiving the highest test match viewership in the last four years. The WTC Final is most likely set to make history in terms of viewership numbers," he said.
The test series between India and England had registered viewership of 1.3 million average minute audience (AMA), according to data by Broadcast Audience Research Council India (BARC).
BARC defines AMA as the number of individuals of a target audience who view an event, averaged across minutes.
The test series recorded a cumulative reach of 103 million viewers, with the opening match of the series having clocked a reach of 26 million viewers.
'Reach' refers to the total number of individuals who viewed the event for at least one minute.
While Taurani thinks that there could be traction in terms of viewership, he added that England was different because they (India) were getting better with every match and that is why the viewership shot up.
Whether WTC Finals 2021 will make viewership records only time will tell, but Jayaraj points out that test cricket has started gaining more attention due to top-notch performances and interesting games witnessed in the recent past.
After the WTC Final, Star Sports will shift its focus to upcoming tournaments like the ICC T20 World Cup, and the return of IPL 2021, he said.