Television advertising rates for Sunday's cricket final between rivals Pakistan and India are 10 times the normal price, industry sources said, as millions of fans are expected to tune in for a clash that last time ranked among the six most-watched sporting events.
Pakistan, the lowest-ranked team at the Champions Trophy tournament, upset host and favourites England to set up a final with defending champions India, feeding a frenzy for a game that commands a fanatical following in the region and among its diaspora.
A 30-second spot during the final to be broadcast by Rupert Murdoch's Star Sports is expected to cost nearly $155,500, far higher than the $15,500 that advertisers pay on average for most Indian shows.
— Shahid Afridi (@SAfridiOfficial) June 16, 2017
Most of the spots pre-booked
Most of the TV spots for the final, to be played in London, were pre-booked with firms such as Nissan Motor, Intel Corp, Emirates, Chinese mobile maker Oppo and Indian tyre maker MRF signed up as commercial partners for the tournament.
Fewer than 10 percent of the slots are left for the final, a person in the sports broadcasting industry said.
Companies still wanting to air their ads will be paying a higher rate than those who pre-booked, said the person, who did not want to be named, citing business confidentiality.
India v Pakistan Final .... !!!!!!!! All TV execs around the World are now cracking a nice bottle open to celebrate ..... #IndiaToWin
— Michael Vaughan (@MichaelVaughan) June 15, 2017
Before the Champions Trophy, the last time India and Pakistan played a one-day international was during the 2015 World Cup.
That game, won by India, was one of the top-six most viewed sporting events, along with the soccer World Cup final and Usain Bolt's 100-metre sprint at the 2012 Olympic Games, the sports broadcasting industry source said.
Cricket between the neighbours and nuclear rivals has been limited because of their longstanding political disputes.
They last played a bilateral series in 2012-13, when Pakistan toured India for two Twenty20 games and three one-day internationals.
In disputed Kashmir, claimed by both India and Pakistan, the cricket tournament has already caused discord.
Residents of India-administered Kashmir, many of whom support the Pakistani team, lit firecrackers to celebrate Pakistan's victory over Sri Lanka earlier in the tournament.
— Dr Rita Pal (@dr_rita39) June 14, 2017
Later that night, residents in a village in south Kashmir accused Indian army soldiers of beating them and smashing their cars and windows to punish them for celebrating.
On Thursday, a civilian was allegedly shot dead by angry Indian soldiers in summer capital Srinagar which erupted in joy after Pakistan defeated Sri Lanka.
According to an English daily Kashmir Reader, Naseer Ahmad Sheikh, 25, a welder by profession, "was married eleven months ago and was expecting his first child very soon."
No bilateral series
Earlier this month, Indian news channel Zee News said it's not covering Pakistan and India games in support of Indian soldiers.
Zee News, Zee Hindustan, WION, DNA and all other news channels from Zee Media will not be covering any news about India Pak match
— Dr. Subhash Chandra (@subhashchandra) June 4, 2017
— Gaurav Jha (@gjha88) June 5, 2017
On Saturday, Indian politicians from the ruling government ruled out bilateral cricket ties between India and Pakistan anytime soon.
"India and Pakistan will continue to play at international tournaments, but neither India plays in Pakistan nor Pakistan plays in India," far-right Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah said.