ESPN Star eyes big biz from Indo-Pak cricket series

Buoyed by good response to the ongoing India-England test series, sports broadcaster ESPN Star is set to cash in on heavily from the upcoming one day international and T20 matches between India and Pakistan.

The broadcaster, which is seeking to widen viewer base by aggressively focusing on Hindi commentary and roping in the likes of Kapil Dev, Navjot Singh Sidhu and Ramiz Raja for the ongoing series, will be providing simultaneous telecast of

India's future home matches in Hindi and English on its different channels.

"The ad spots for the entire India-England test matches are sold. The response has been good despite the fact that this is happening after Diwali. We are now getting ready for the Indo-Pak series. There will be a premium on this series as it is happening after a gap of four years," ESPN Software India Executive Vice-President Sanjay Kailash said.

While he declined to comment on the ad rates for the Indo-Pak matches, industry sources said ESPN Star has asked for over Rs 8 lakh for a 10-second spot, which is way above the average rates and even higher than that of IPL which is at about Rs 5 lakh for a 10-second spot.

"The rates are going to be very high. The advertisements during those India-Pakistan matches will be only for impact and not for efficiency," ZenithOptimedia Managing Partner Navin Khemka said.

Kailash justified the premium pricing for the Indo-Pak series and said: "This is the sort of series which brings viewers, who have otherwise stayed away from cricket, back in front of the TV. The viewership will be extremely high."

He also said the company's bid to expand viewership base by emphasising on Hindi commentary starting with the ongoing series against England will yield rich dividends.

"For a home series for India, the viewership can be anywhere between 120-130 million. What we are now trying to do is expand that base by targeting the Hindi speaking belt with separate commentary and shows," Kailash said.

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