MUMBAI: The Indian national cricket team’s first major international tour of the year to South Africa is attracting peak audiences and investment from brands as Sony Pictures anticipates “chock-o-block” sales.

The series’ rights holder, Sony Pictures Network India (SPN) said that it has already sold more than 70% of the ad inventory for the tour, which will see India’s international players perform in three test matches, six one-day internationals (ODIs), and three TwentyTwenty (T20) games.

“There’s a lot of excitement for the tour among advertisers,” Rohit Gupta, president, network sales & international business at SPN, told the Economic Times.

Having begun the sales process several months back, the broadcaster has already “locked in 10 sponsors,” Gupta continued, including five co-presenting and five associates and is in talks more advertisers. “With almost a month for the ODIs and T20 games, we are looking at a choc-o-block sale.” 

Though Gupta would not confirm numbers, media experts believe the broadcaster could draw as much as Rs 200 crore in ad revenue from the series. So far, co-presenting sponsors include Maruki, Suzuki, Idea Celluar, Airtel, and MakeMyTrip; the associate brands include Amazon.

Last year’s reception of visitors Australia, New Zealand, and Sri Lanka drew disappointing levels of interest with the lack of stiff competition. India is, after all, ranked as the best team in the world. This year, however, the perception of South Africa (No. 2 in the world) as worthy opponents has created significant buzz among viewers and the brands that chase them.

Indian cricket has made some hugely valuable stars. In October, Forbes released a list of most brand-valuable athletes in the world in which it placed Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli in the number seven spot with a worth of $14.5 million, ahead of footballer Lionel Messi.

Sourced from Economic Times, Deccan Chronicle; additional content by WARC staff