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Last Updated: Monday, 26 March 2007, 14:46 GMT 15:46 UK
The financial cost of India's failure
India star Sachin Tendulkar in a street advertisement
Much of the advertising has been around the Indian team
With cricket-crazy India now out of the first round of the World Cup, the financial fallout is starting to become apparent.

India's exit poses questions about the viability of heavy spending around a team that has not won a competition of note outside the subcontinent since 1985.

"The major stakeholders in the tournament - the television channels and major sponsors - risk losing millions, either in cash or kind, if India go out in the first round," wrote Sambit Bal, the editor of leading cricket website Cricinfo last week.

"It's a disaster waiting to happen."

The disaster has now happened

It is difficult to pin down exactly how much money the television channels, advertisers and travel agents who sold packaged cricket trips to the West Indies have lost, but unofficial estimates say corporates will take a hit of at least $35m.

'Big flop'

One of those hit by the debacle may be the World Cup's official broadcaster Sony Entertainment Television.

"The cup will be a big flop in India and advertisers will lose value of their investments. We may lose money even after selling all slots," the company's chief Kunal Dasgupta was quoted as saying by Outlook magazine.

Residents of Calcutta watching World Cup match on television at a street corner
Viewership of cricket is expected to halve after the exit of India
Industry sources say advertising rates had dropped by a third from the 150,000 rupees ($3,260) for 10 seconds during the match telecasts.

For an expected India vs Pakistan game in the second round on 15 April, Sony had reportedly sold 10 second advertising slots for 450,000 rupees ($9,785).

Now advertisers are going to want this money back because the match isn't going to happen.

Mindshare, a media buying agency, reckons viewership for the rest of the matches in the World Cup will now halve in India, which has the biggest TV audience for the game.

So advertisers will now try to cut back on their spends and renegotiate television ad rates and contracts.

'Lost relevance'

PepsiCo, one of the tournaments' four global sponsors, has already decided to scrap a much hyped upbeat campaign around the Indian team with the punch line - 'If you fight, you win'.

Indian cricketer poster being burnt by angry fans
Indian cricketers carry the hopes of a billion people

"The campaign has lost its relevance. We are taking it off and will replace it with some other Pepsi campaign," a senior official of JWT, the cola major's advertising official told The Economic Times.

A number of companies like Pepsi, Visa and Reebok may now be forced to reconsider their cricket-centric advertising campaigns.

Booksellers have begun withdrawing books on cricket released around the tournament because they are not finding any buyers.

"Buyers don't even want to look at a book on cricket now. So we are hiding them," said Delhi bookseller MK Baig.

Also hit are companies who had planned expensive product launches during the tournament - a leading cell phone maker is reportedly planning to put off the launch of a new model featuring a Bollywood star with a cricket theme.

'Flawed format'

The absence of India in the second round will also mean that less than half of the 4,000 Indians who were expected to travel to the Caribbean for the tournament will finally make the journey, say industry experts.

But Sotc, one India-based travel agency which has booked over 500 packages -60% of them sponsored by companies - priced between $7600 and $ 13,000 say it does not expect many cancellations.

"The customers who have booked with us were not looking at the cricket match being held in the Caribbean but also viewed it as a good summer gateway. It is a mixture of leisure, golf and cricket for them," a Sotc official told the Business Standard newspaper.

Sony's Kunal Dasgupta now says the format of the tournament is flawed.

"In a 48-day tournament, if teams like India and Pakistan are out for playing bad cricket in two matches, there is something really wrong. We were against this format and even told the International Cricket Council to reconsider it," he said.




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