July 14 promises to be a Super Sunday for Star Sports and travel companies, as England hosts three major sporting events — the ICC World Cup final, the Wimbledon final, and the British Grand Prix.
The cricket World Cup is expected to attract the maximum eyeballs. Star India, the official broadcaster of International Cricket Council (ICC) events in India, has programmed the one and a half month long tournament being held in England and Wales on more than 10 channels, across standard and high-definition picture formats, and five Indian languages apart from English.
While the domestic viewership data for the 2015 World Cup final between Australia and New Zealand is not available, the most-watched match of the tournament was the semi-final between India and Australia with 309 million impressions (impressions is the unit of viewership that implies the number of people watching an event at any given time in its telecast). Experts say if the final for this year’s World Cup features India, the viewership is expected to be much more, given Star India’s efforts towards expanding the scope of sports broadcast to regional markets.
The Wimbledon final in 2018 attracted 185,000 impressions across all three formats — men’s singles, men’s doubles, and mixed doubles. While a niche sport in terms of viewership, tennis commands a dedicated fan-base, which also is the target audience for a lot of premium brands.
“The advertiser profile for all three sports is fairly different. For example, tennis attracts more global brands (those that have presence in more than 120 countries), while cricket attracts advertisers targeting the playing nations. The Grand Prix is very niche and the advertisers’ interest in the sport is a bigger factor than viewership,” says Vineet Sodhani, founder and CEO, Spatial Access, a media audit company.
According to BARC data, the viewership of Formula 1 racing is very niche, too. For example, the British Grand Prix in 2018 clocked a viewership of 24,000. However, since the sport commands a dedicated and growing fan base, especially among the urban male youth, advertisers do show interest in the property.
While Star India refrained from revealing its programming plans for July 14, it confirmed it plans to broadcast the three mega events across the Star Sports network, uninterrupted.
Travel companies are also raking in the moolah thanks to this triple-event Sunday, as fans flock to England. Here too, cricket is the main attraction.
Vipul Prakash, chief operating officer, MakeMyTrip, says, “Overall, in April, advance bookings for London for the July 14 weekend soared to a record high of 100 per cent, as compared to 2018.”
Globally, flight bookings to England for June and July have increased by around 3 per cent and the highest volume has come from India. According to global ticket distribution system Travelport, among all the countries participating in the cricket World Cup the greatest growth in flight bookings to the UK has from India (+17,505), followed by South Africa (+2,654), Bangladesh (+1,565), and Pakistan (+1,449).
Consequently, air fares to UK have also seen a jump. “The fares are up by at least 30-35 per cent. On an average, the fares to London from these points range between Rs 45,000 and Rs 48,000, and during the summer holiday season it goes up to Rs 55,000 to Rs 60,000. This year, it has shot up significantly. The fares for the July 14 weekend is in the range of Rs 75,000,” says John Nair, head—business travel, Cox & Kings.
Travel firms also unfurled special offers around the sporting events. “As enthusiasts began booking in advance — in the months of February, March, and April — we were among the first to roll-out specially-curated packages for Indians travelling to London. These could have further encouraged people to plan their travel to London, meticulously, around the World Cup, Wimbledon and F1 season,” says Prakash.