Fewer Indians are tuning into television coverage of their cricket team's current tour of Australia, as speculation mounts about failure on the field affecting future broadcast rights and endorsement values for the nation's favourite sport.
The latest figures from Mumbai-based TV monitoring company, TAM show the first two test matches between Australia and India registered an average rating of 0.89 and 0.7 for TV rights holder ESPN-Star Sports (ESS).
The Times of India has also forecast that cricket advertising rates will fall by 20% in 2012 if an increasingly busy calendar continues to accompany disappointing performances from the Indian national cricket team.
"If eyeballs move away from cricket over a period of time, the value for the game will depreciate. Every stakeholder will lose and it will pull the game down the value chain. Right now, cricket is still the biggest sporting property in India. But as we develop as a nation, our preferences and watching habits are bound to change," Sanjay Kailash, EVP and head of sales, ESS, told the Economic Times.
Kailash added that in spite of the disappointing viewing figures on Star Cricket for the recent test matches, 60-70% of the advertising spots have now been sold for February's triangular one day international series between India, Australia and Sri Lanka.
The high octane Indian Premier League commences again in April, and media commentators are keeping an eye on what level of advertising rates the traditionally popular twenty20 tournament will now command.
Furthermore, it remains to be seen how much the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is able to raise for the now cancelled domestic TV rights previously held by Neo Sports' parent company Nimbus Communication.