Team India's flop show at the Cricket World Cup is likely to haunt television broadcaster SET India, and state-owned DD to a lesser extent, as a host of advertisers are putting in requests for bonus spots or discounts.
The developments are expected to take an ugly turn with the Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA) objecting to a joint statement issued by the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) and Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) earlier in the day.
Among other things, the statement said that "cricket packages when bought or sold are not necessarily linked to the fortunes of the Indian team alone."
Later in the day, Srinivasan Swamy, president, AAAI, admitted that the ISA had not been consulted before the statement was issued. Concessions might be offered to advertisers, he added.
Though advertisers cannot force re-negotiations on ad rates, as they are bound by contracts, the dip in viewership and waning interest among Indian viewers is irking them.
Durables manufacturer Videocon, for instance, will spend Rs 10 crore on the World Cup, instead of the Rs 20 crore it had initially set aside. V N Dhoot, chairman, Videocon Industries, said the company will fulfill prior commitments, but will not make additional investments in cricket.
Anil Khera, CEO and director, Sansui, a brand managed by Videocon, was more candid. "We are in the process of negotiating with Set Max for 50 per cent reduction in the total bills," he said.
Prasad Narasimhan, vice-president, marketing, TVS Motor Company, added that his company was taking up the issue of a revision in advertising tariffs with the channel.
Retailer Subhiksha has managed to get free bonus spots on DD during feature film telecasts and a major telecom player has hinted that large clients will bargain with broadcasters, said sources.
Media-buying agencies shared the sentiments of their clients. A senior executive at ZenithOptimedia said, "We will meet SET India on Tuesday. We are concerned about India's early exit as we have put about Rs 90 crore in SETMax. We might look at spreading this spend much beyond the World Cup, but commenting on the situation will fuel speculation at this juncture."
As for Sony, Rohit Gupta, executive vice-president, SET India said, "It's unfair on the part of advertisers to ask for discounts." However, he did not deny that advertisers are approaching the official broadcaster for exactly that purpose.