ISL 2016 shows growth; final gets 41 million TV views

MUMBAI: The third season of the Hero Indian Super League was one of the most watched and followed footballing properties in India in 2016. With eight teams vying hard and looking equal on the paper, it was set to be a thrilling contest on cards. Atletico de Kolkata won the equally fought final in a penalty shootout, defeating fellow finalists of 2014, Kerala Blasters at a packed Kochi Stadium.

The final was seen by 54,000 fans in the stadium, while 41 million fans tuned in on television to follow the nail biting drama (BARC, CS4+, U+R, all Channels). The total viewership was a rise of 41 per cent as compared to the final of 2015, shattering all records on the TV viewership of the league in history.

Numbers suggest that finalists’ were being ably supported by their respective states. In Kerala, the ISL final became the most viewed sporting event in 2016, eclipsing the 2016 T20 World Cup semi-final (India vs West Indies) and the Euro 2016 final. In West Bengal, the ISL final had a higher viewership that that of IPL 9 finals (BARC, CS 4+, U+R Average Impressions).

With a total viewership of 216 million as compared to 207 million last year, it is easy to understand that the football league is growing steadily (BARC, CS4+, U+R). One of the One of the highlights of the season was the sharp increase in rural India viewership registering a cumulative figure of 101 million, indicating the widespread appeal of the sport. Furthermore, key metro markets like Mumbai and Chennai emerged as one of the top performers this season recording a surge of more than 50% over last year along with a cumulative 20 per cent spike in viewership in Tamil Nadu.

Football Sports Development Ltd founder & chairperson Nita Ambani, optimistic about the rising popularity of the game in India, said, “The overwhelming response from fans is testament to the vision we have for the league, and it reaffirms our faith that the ‘Indian football is moving in right direction. The response from newer markets like Tamil Nadu and Mumbai, and further growth in established markets like West Bengal, Kerala etc shows the appetite for the sport. Stadium attendance, viewership numbers and growth on digital platform this season further encourages us to reset our benchmark for the season ahead.”

The third season of ISL has recorded a surge of over 25 per cent in overall viewer engagement vis-à-vis ISL 2015. This showcases the enhanced quality of play complemented by new look graphics and the best of experts on the commentary panel, cutting across demographic boundaries and capturing the imagination of a diverse fan base.

2016 edition also took the digital medium by storm, registering double view-time, which was 2.3 times over last year on both Hotstar and Jio platform combined. The phenomenon of the Hero ISLwas also visible at the stadiums throughout the season in all ISL club cities, with fan armies and football enthusiasts filling up an average of over 84 per cent seating capacity, the highest across all three seasons.

Star India managing director Sanjay Gupta said, “The kick-off to the Hero ISL in 2014 signified the birth of a footballing nation. This is a long term journey however we are very encouraged by the incredible fan affinity and increase in following of the league and the sport in a short span of three years. We had dreamt of the day when Indian footballers would emerge as sporting heroes and this season of the Hero ISL has seen many new stars emerge. Further the quality of play and multi-lingual, high quality broadcast content has delivered record engagement levels amongst fans. The deeper penetration of the league into Urban and Rural India and the explosive growth of digital consumption augurs well for the future of football in India.”

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