Sponsors cold to Champions League

Written by Sohini Mitter | Mumbai | Updated: Sep 16 2011, 22:58pm hrs
With Bharti Airtel terminating its title sponsorship deal with Champions League Twenty20 earlier this month, three years before it ended, official broadcaster ESS (ESPN Star Sports) may find it difficult to line up sponsors for the tournament, to be held from September 23 to October 8, say media buyers.

With less than a month to go for the event, ESS has roped in only four out of 10 sponsors for the championship. Moreover, sources say that Nokia, which has replaced Airtel as title sponsor, has paid a substantially lower amount for a four-year deal. Ratings for the tournament are expected to be low owing to Indias lacklustre performance in the Test series against England and cricket fatigue resulting from back-to-back tournaments.

The third edition of the Champions League will have three presenting and seven associate sponsors. However, only Toshiba, Videocon and Hero MotoCorp have signed up as associate sponsors for the event. The channel claims that finding advertisers for the tournament hasnt been a problem.

Sanjay Kailash, EVP ad sales & new media, ESS said, Though Champions League's viewership is lower than that of IPL, sponsorship has never been an issue. We've finished selling inventory for the India-England ODI series and with 27 days to go for the CL T20, we're confident of filling up our sponsorship slots.

He added, Sponsors will complement us in promoting the event. On-air to on-ground marketing spends will be in the ratio of 70:30.

Samir Khanna, media head, Mudra Max West said, In 2009, the tournament garnered ratings around 1. This improved to 1.5 in 2010, but it was still nowhere close to what IPL or World Cup delivered.

According to sources, ESS has slashed ad rates for the event to R1.2-1.6 lakh from last years R2-2.2 lakh.

This is owing to a cold response from advertisers. None of the sponsors were available for comment.

A media buyer, who did not wish to be named, said, Champions League is a dead property with poor ratings. Viewers feel no connection with the teams or players. Advertisers are reluctant to put money into it, especially when they are trimming their ad budgets.

He added, ESPN Star Sports paid $1 billion to BCCI for the 10-year satellite rights of the event, and now it is struggling to recover the money.