A New religion
The world’s second most populous nation went into a tizzy on Wednesday, 30th March. All because of a cricket match. Well, it wasn’t just any cricket match though.
It was the World Cup semi-final between arch rivals and neighbors, India and Pakistan. It obviously had the advertisers and the media bandwagon salivating at the prospect of a never before kind of audience watching the Big Match. According to some initial reports, an estimated 67 million viewers were watching. In my opinion, a lot more would have, given that it is pretty hard to estimate the number of viewers per TV set, in a place like India. Any guesses?
Compare this with the Super Bowl (National Football League) in the world’s richest nation, the US. An estimated national audience of 100 million watch the Super Bowl. The most expensive advertising happens during this time. A 30 second spot on the network costs a cool US$3 million.
So what’s the rate for an ad spot during the World cup cricket match finals to be played this Saturday between India and Sri Lanka. Estimates put it at Rs.24 lakhs per 10 second spot or in dollar terms, that is US$ 160K per 30 second spot. Not bad, at all for a country where 410 million live below the poverty line of $1.25 per day!! Despite all that, Indian cricket with its own league format called IPL may just go past the Super Bowl economy, sometime in the near future. Why would I venture into thinking that such a thing could happen?
Am banking on the fact that this CricketMania has evolved into a New Religion in this country of 1.2 billion, uniting people beyond caste, creed or religion. It evokes passionate and intense emotions, especially when a match like this happens between the neighbors. Apart from the usual celebrities there was also a twist of diplomacy this time, with the Indian Prime Minister informally inviting his Pakistani counterpart to India, for the match. Imagine Barack Obama and Hugo Chavez or Raul Castro sitting together for the Super Bowl game. Not that such back door diplomacy has helped either of the two countries in the past to get over their squabbling.
India almost came to a stop for a good half of the day. While Pakistan officially shut down in entirety. My fellow colleague, Venky who can’t understand what the fuss is all about (he dislikes cricket, a rare breed in India) was raring to have a go at quantifying the GDP impact due to the productivity loss. Good luck to him.
Most leading companies closed down for half of the day or started their work early to close before the match. Some of them made arrangements for employees to watch the match at the workplace. Given that we couldn’t shut down completely, we decided to telecast the match live on our premises. The bottom line was pretty simple: Don’t miss any calls; don’t miss any deadlines; don’t let down any of your clients. But go ahead, this is a new religion!!
Here are some pics for you. (Click to enlarge)