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CFL derby's lofty ratings defies urge to merge domestic leagues

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MUMBAI: The outpour of ecstasy and glamour in the first edition of Indian Super League (ISL) easily outclassed the other existing Football leagues in India. Subsequently, pundits and authorities began debating if other leagues should stay or be merged into one.

Silencing all cynics are the ratings of the Calcutta Football League (CFL) derby match between Mohun Bagan FC VS East Bengal. Aired on Star India’s regional channel Star Jalsha, the derby match garnered highest ever ratings for a CFL match.

Approximately 82,000 spectators were at the edge of their seats in the stadium for the match’s entire 90 minutes duration, while 16.3 lakh people tuned in to Star Jalsha to watch it live. The average time spent was a whopping 58.4 minutes. The match garnered a rating of 4.45 per cent in NCCS 4+, in M 15+ ABC marker the match clocked six per cent ratings while the reach garnered is 10.2 per cent in NCCS 4+.

Star India gives much importance to the production quality and that’s one of the reasons why ratings are going up. “I believe that the ratings will go even higher the next time,” says Grey Mind productions founder Anilava Chatterjee. “We deployed 14 cameras this year and we are improving the production quality every match thanks to Star. The quality of football is getting better. Overall, the league has a great future,” he adds.

A football commentator, on condition of anonymity, said, “I have no doubt that the domestic leagues in India in some regions have more fan following than ISL. Sports now is a matter of packaging and Star is a master in that. That’s why ISL looks so colourful. Spend the same amount of money in local football and that will also look glamorous. From a football follower’s perspective, I feel India needs both and a merger can turn out to be a debacle.”

“Local football has potential of revenue generation if and only if it is packaged properly. Also the domestic leagues can be of huge benefit for broadcasters as the acquisition costs are low. Now it’s for IMG and the authority to decide if a merger is the solution,” added a veteran in media selling fraternity.

Football in India has failed to attract the youth and one of the main reasons behind it is lack of ideologies. Former Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly has often made a point at various public gatherings, “Youth in the country, while growing up wants to be like Gavaskar, Sachin and Dravid. When they will have idols in football, the sport will grow enormously.”

Recently former India football skipper Baichung Bhutia also expressed his disagreement on a merger. Now it remains to be seen if high ratings saves the domestic leagues from getting diminished.

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