Like his inimitable cover drives, Virat Kohli's mass appeal, too, shines bright across the globe. A case in point: latest reports about Channel 7 (official Australian broadcasters for India Vs Australia test series) being unhappy with Cricket Australia as it's set to "lose big" due to the Indian skipper's absence from three test matches of the total four.
For the uninitiated, he is going to be on paternity leave and will return home -after the first test -to be with his wife Anushka Sharma whose due date is in January next year.
Experts feel what broadcasters are "going to miss is Kohli's competitive nature, besides his animated and aggressive personality." "He is any broadcaster's dream with his super competitive and care-a-damn attitude," says ad whiz, Prahlad Kakkar, adding: "Unlike 'Captain Cool' Dhoni, who wouldn't let any emotion show on his face, in terms of sheer watch-ability, Kohli is way ahead of everyone else. He has the correct concoction of passion, aggression and class."
According to reports in the Australian media, both channels, (Fox Sports, which is broadcasting limited-overs matches, and Channel 7) had designed their promotions around Kohli.
"Football superstars Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo and basketball icon LeBron James are the only international athletes on earth with a bigger marketing and social media footprint than 'King Kohli'," read a report in The Australian newspaper. It further states that Channel 7 "will now have to re-cut their advertising to reflect the fact he's missing the last three Tests including Boxing Day."
"After the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, and MS Dhonis, the iconic legendary status (for Indian cricketers) no longer exists, with an exception of someone like a Kohli," says ad filmmaker and Bollywood director, Vinil Mathew, adding: "He still carries an aura, brand value, and traction that attracts people. So, even if someone doesn't follow the game, he/she would know or, at least must have heard about Kohli. That shows his sheer reach and popularity."
Besides his brand appeal, Kohli's on-field prowess also puts his star attraction in an enviable position. "Besides his innumerable die-hard, there must be lots of real cricket fanatics, who know that the team's performance may get affected or dip in his performance. And that may see many people not following certain matches (that Kohli doesn't play in)," says Mathew.
For Kakkar, what makes "Kohli super special" is his "sheer brilliance as an athlete." "When he is in full flow as a batsman, that's the most beautiful sight on the cricket field," he concludes.
The numbers game!
Although Indian team lost the first one-day international against Australia, experts feel the cricket series' official Indian broadcaster is likely to ride high on increased viewership and ad revenues due to the "pent-up demand" for live cricket featuring the Indian team. Reportedly, the said broadcaster expects a growth of 25-30 per cent revenues compared to the last series. As per an estimate, it may earn around Rs 250-300 crore in ad revenues during the India-Australia series.