Can the telecast of the FIFA World Cup lord over cricket coverage in India? The media planners in India have long been secretly trying to promote football as a mass game to woo the cricket-crazy audience. But on Indian television, football has only been able to attract audiences in the metros and the States of West Bengal and Kerala. Football can never take on cricket as India does not feature anywhere in the top league. Still ESPN-STAR Sports, the official channel of the FIFA World Cup, and the ad agencies are on a football branding exercise. ESPN-STAR Sports has been successful in selling all ad spots for the World Cup at attractive prices (nearly 60 to 70 per cent of the ad rate at which the India-West Indies ODI series was sold by Ten Sports). Added to that, leading Bengali and Malayalam channels are having World Cup specials. Let us hope that ESPN-Star sports are able to bring in more eyeballs to football matches in India and make it popular especially in rural areas. SREEDHAR PILLAI

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