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Its campaign – Diwali hogi cup wali, rightfully mixes the two biggest celebrated events in the country – Diwali and cricket. The campaign includes television commercials (of varying durations), as well as strategic tie-ups with news channels, radio stations and coffee houses to reach viewers. In fact, after India crashed out early from the T20 tournament, the channel had to ensure that the value of the channel was not eroded. “The efforts went in consoling the viewer that a lot more cricket is coming up and hence we felt a serious need for aggressive marketing,” avers Dayani. When it comes to aggressive marketing, 2009 is being considered a watershed year for ESS; but as Dayani claims, ESS had not been dormant even last year.
“We made huge investments last year also. As far as investments during 2009 is concerned, the efforts are on to make the Champions League a unique property in itself,” claims Dayani. In September last year, ESS had paid $975 million for commercial rights of the T20 Champions League for 10 years – the most expensive deal in the history of the channel. But can it become as big as the IPL, especially considering that the club format has never been tried before in cricket atleast? There is a debate brewing there, but many experts opine that it will take a season or two to reach the IPL platform. “After watching tournaments like IPL and T20 World Cup, people can easily relate to the format. However, it may take some time to get familiar with the international club team format that is not known to the sport. But we are confident that it has the potential to become a unique cricket property for us,” forecasts an optimistic Dayani. While that was the sentiment about the modern shorter version of the game, surprisingly, ESS continues its bullish approach to the 50-over format as well. And this is despite the fact that the recently ended Champions Trophy (which was a 50-over format) wasn’t able to garner as high TRPs as the recently concluded T20 tournament did. Experts also believe that increasing competition from channels like SET Max (which owns rights for IPL) and Neo Sports have been a party spoiler for ESS. Then there is an added threat from BCCI, which plans to launch its captive sports channel. But Dayani chooses to differ as he notes, “Competition is always good for the industry, as it makes you proactive.” And the worries seem to fade further with ESS’ plan to launch a round-the clock sports news channel. So for now, with little differentiation in content, the only salvation for the sports channel gods is marketing, in other words, advertise shamelessly! Remember, it’s always the last over in a competitive market!
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Source : IIPM Editorial, 2010.
An Initiative of IIPM, Malay Chaudhuri and Arindam chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist).
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