Article-Television ratings slump in India

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Posted: 17 January 2012 at 7:51am | IP Logged

India in Australia 2011-12

Television ratings slump in India

Rahul Dravid loses his leg stump, Australia v India, 3rd Test, Perth, 3rd day, January 15, 2012
The dismal performance of the Indian team has turned off television viewers Getty Images

Indian viewers have been turned off by their team's abject capitulation to Australia in the Test series, with television ratings down substantially in comparison to India's last tour four years ago. The TRPs (one TRP represents 1% of viewers in the surveyed area in a given minute) for the first two Tests were 0.89 and 0.70 compared to 1.07 and 1.30 in 2007-08, according to TAM Sports, a division of TAM Media Research, the leading television ratings agency in India.

Prior to the first Test, India were thought to have their best chance of winning a first series in Australia. The prospect of Sachin Tendulkar's 100th international hundred added to the build-up and the series was eagerly anticipated. Instead the tour has turned out to be a mismatch so far, with India losing the first three Tests, the previous two by an innings.

"I think the primary factor [for the low ratings] is the performance of the team itself," Ravi Rao, the South Asia leader for Mindshare, told ESPNcricinfo. "People expected India to rebound in the second Test. Typically, the Indian team's first match is a bad performance. [But] this has been a desperate performance so the channel is going to be affected in terms of getting revenues."

Sridhar Ramanujam, who heads brand consulting firm Brand-Comm, said "People want to see their teams win. That's probably why the ratings are low."

In contrast, the Daily Telegraph reports that Australian ratings are up by more than 30% over last year's Ashes series, which Australia lost 1-3. Host broadcaster Channel Nine has pulled in an average of 1.49 million viewers during the two Tests, while last summer 1.14 million tuned in to see England humble the home side.

However, India's abject run - they have now lost seven consecutive away Tests - is not expected to affect the appetite of viewers or advertisers for the upcoming tri-series that will also feature Sri Lanka. "Cricket has no other competition, especially for the male market," Patrick Gomes, the vice-president of Lintas Media Group, said. According to Gomes, there was no shortage of advertisers wanting to a piece of the one-day series pie, though he also suggested that some of them were hoping that rates would come down given India's recent poor run.

One of the reasons for optimism about the one-day series is the high profile nature of the participants. Joining the home team Australia are India, the current 50-over world champions, and Sri Lanka, the losing finalists. Sanjay Kailash, EVP & head of sales, ESPN-Star Sports, said that the channel has already sold 70% of its inventory and does not expect to have a hard time selling the remaining 30%. He sees the Test series as distinct from the one-day tournament. "For us, no two things are attached to each other."

Rao said that one-days are typically a better bet than Test matches because "even if India does not do well, in the initial phase I would still get more eyeballs. Crowds still want to know how the games are going to go."

Ramanujam also expected fans to tune back in for the tri-series. "I think people will watch and hope. The Indian cricket fan is a die-hard optimist."

India will also play two Twenty20 internationals before the tri-series. In 2007-08, the Twenty20 international between the teams drew a TRP of 4.46, while the tri-series featuring Sri Lanka had an average rating of 3.24.

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