Sony Banks On Kapil Dev Dil Se

Mumbai: | Updated: Jul 30 2002, 05:30am hrs
Sony Entertainment Television (SET) has roped in Kapil Dev to anchor a weekly half-hour prime-time programme for its MAX channel as a buildup to the Cricket World Cup. The move is in line with Sony’s design to broadbase audiences for the game, after having acquired the satellite telecast rights to ICC cricket including two World Cups till 2007 for a whopping $255 million.

Hoping to recover costs through high advertising rates, Sony is initially indicating an associate sponsorship fee of Rs 4.5 crore for the ICC Champions Trophy and Rs 9 crore for the main sponsor of the event combined with the World Cup early next year. With advertising agencies complaining that the rates are unrealistic in a sluggish market, Sony feels it can add value by attracting non traditional cricket audiences including women with a “frill of entertainment to the programming”.

The Kapil Dev-hosted show ‘Kapil Dil Se’ will be aired by the middle of August, just before the Champions Trophy in September. Mr Dev, who is the brand ambassador of Sony for the World Cup, will be talking to celebrities including non-cricketers. But close to the tournament, the show will focus on cricketers.

Ruby Bhatia will host the other long format show, ‘Cricket Masala’. The half-hour programme will look at the lighter side of cricket and will be telecast around the same time as ‘Kapil Dil Se’.

Sony will also introduce vignettes to promote the World Cup on the network.

“The support from programming and marketing will help us reach our sales targets. Mr Dev, who recently was awarded by Wisden as the Indian Cricketer of the Century, will be a huge asset to market our product. We will be using him for on ground activities as well. Besides catering to the hardcore cricket audiences, we are also bringing in the entertainment perspective,” said SET India executive vice-president (sales and revenue management) Rohit Gupta.

Sony will have a customised feed, with its own group of commentators. It will have two-hour pre-match and one-hour post-match modules. While the World Cup will have 54 matches, the Champions Trophy will have 15 contests.

But with DD having the rights to show India-featuring and some key matches on the terrestrial channel, will Sony be able to sell to advertisers at such steep prices

“Cable and satellite homes are spread across 4,500 towns, making DD’s terrestrial reach irrelevant in these markets. Besides, there are around 48 million cable homes, up from 18 million during the last World Cup. There are also going to be more matches in this World Cup,” said Mr Gupta.