Television

No reason for GECs to panic as IPL grabs eyeballs

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MUMBAI: It is that time of the year when general entertainment channels (GECs), across languages, face the jitters over viewership numbers with the Indian Premier League (IPL) beginning its customary summer stint. Moreover, as the league begins a new innings with Star Sports, the host broadcaster has been in marketing overdrive to accrue eyeballs over the length and breadth of the country.

During the IPL season, GECs usually witness a dip in viewership thanks to the league’s appeal cutting across demographics. It will be worthwhile to review the viewership ratings since this is Star’s first year of airing the league, which is being telecast in English, Hindi as well as Kannada, Tamil, Telugu and Bengali. When the broadcast rights lay with Sony Pictures Networks, the coverage was restricted to English and Hindi commentary on Sony Max for a decade.

Considering the coverage is in six languages this season, the affinity for the league is set to soar with audiences in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka that, hitherto, were compelled to watch the English coverage.

Commentary in regional language not only multiplies the excitement among the viewers but also increases the entertainment quotient of the game, according to research conducted by Chrome Data Analytics & Media recently.

There are, however, always two sides to a coin. Historically, GEC viewership ebbs and flows as the tournament progresses. While it may appear all glowing for the viewership of the IPL, as the common consensus is that GECs to lose considerable viewership during this two-month window, it is not all a doom and gloom scenario for the drama makers. Moreover, though the IPL has been geared mainly for the male audience, a huge number of female followers lap it up.

Contrary to the popular notion, even as the viewership for the IPL rises exponentially during the first week of the tournament and the play-offs, the interest in the proceedings unmistakably tapers off during the middle stages of the league. Apart from the enthusiasts, regular fans are keen to just watch the games involving their favourite teams on the allotted days. GECs, therefore, can breathe a sigh of relief as some of the viewers are bound to return to catch up on their beloved TV shows after the initial euphoria of the tournament decreases. Despite commentary in more languages, a similar scenario is likely to pan out this season as well.  

The IPL still remains a big cause for worry for GECs and broadcasters sounded the alarm in March by strategically launching new shows on their channels and giving them enough lead time to catch the attention of its audience. As a result, eight new shows were launched before the IPL started in a bid to avoid the exodus of viewers to the popular cricketing tournament.

Star has a big legacy to carry forward from Sony and even create one of its own for the coming years and set the tone for the tenure of its rights. This season, it remains to be seen whether GECs effectively regain their viewership during the inevitable period of lull for the IPL.

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