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CRICKET FEVER

Cricket in Britain is this summer’s obsession among Indians and brands

Reuters/Peter Cziborra
And it's a six.
  • Niharika Sharma
By Niharika Sharma

Reporter

Indian cricket fans have found an excuse to beat the scorching heat this summer by travelling to cheer for their cricket team in the ongoing world cup.

Flight bookings from India to the host country, the United Kingdom, have surged around 30% year-on-year for the period of the tournament (May 30 -July 14), according to the UK-based travel commerce platform Travelport.

This spurt in absolute traveller volume is higher than from any other country playing the world cup this year.

OriginPassenger volume increase
from May 30-July 14 vs previous year
Growth
India17,50530%
South Africa2,65413%
Bangladesh1,56580%
Pakistan1,44914%
Afghanistan5130%
West Indies400.70%
New Zealand360.20%
Sri Lanka-586-14.70%
Australia-2570-2.70%
Source:Travelport

Led by Virat Kohli, the Indian team will play its first match today (June 05) against South Africa.

“With two previous cricket world cup wins to its name and a hugely passionate supporter base, it’s no surprise to see there has been a significant surge in flight bookings (to the UK) from India,” said Stephen Shurrock, chief commercial officer, Travelport.

In May, UK visa applications from India averaged around 3,500 per day and around 80,000 Indians are expected to travel to the country for the tournament, according to the British high commission.

“In recent years we have seen a growing trend of travellers combining an international trip with the opportunity to witness a major sports event. According to ICC (International Cricket Council) research, India constitutes 90% of the 1 billion cricket fans (globally). With such a large cricket fan base, we think the world cup would be a major attraction for travel to England this June,” said Balu Ramachandran, head of air and distribution at the travel portal Cleartrip.

Field day for brands

At home, brands are looking to make the most out of the frenzy. This year, the tournament’s schedule and design are favourable for advertising.

Unlike in the past, World Cup 2019 will have a round-robin format, which means all 10 teams will face each other once in the league stage. “India will play at least nine league games, which will bolster ICC and broadcasters’ revenues,” said Saurabh Uboweja, CEO of the New Delhi-based management consulting firm, Brands of Desire.

“The timings for the matches are also favourable for an Indian TV audience with matches beginning at either 10.30 am or 1.30 pm UK time. That means they would be reaching their climax during Indian prime time in the late afternoon or late evening,” he added.

The favourable slots have encouraged brands to leverage Indians’ love for the game.

Leading food brand Britannia has reintroduced its popular ad campaign “Britannia Khao World Cup Jao” (Eat Britannia, go to the World Cup) that first made its appearance in World Cup 1999. Under the plan, customers can collect “runs” mentioned on the company’s product packs, based on which they can win prizes. Also, 100 lucky customers will get an all-expenses-paid trip to watch a match live.

Cab aggregator Uber, an official sponsor of the tournament, has something similar to offer—Uber Karo World Cup Chalo (Book an Uber, and go to World Cup).

Coca-Cola has the “fly to London to watch the World Cup finals” campaign.

Food-delivery app Zomato, meanwhile, has announced Zomato Cricket Cup: Customers correctly predicting the outcome of a match will get points credited to their account. On May 23, cash back and coupons site CashKaro announced a similar “CashKaro Predict and Win” contest.

Startups and other digital-based firms like Byju’s, policybazaar.com, paisabazaar.com, and PhonePe are also among prime advertisers this year.

The biggest share of ICC’s advertising revenue will come from India, experts believe. “India would be the source of over 50% of all the revenue ICC is likely to earn (from advertisements) in this edition,” said Uboweja.

There is one hitch to all this, though: What if the Indian team crashes out early? All bets are off then.

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