IPL 2019: Hindi, regional language broadcast contributed 81% to viewership

IPL 12 clocked 1.58 billion impressions and 326 billion Man Minutes

MUMBAI: Cricket continues to dominate sports in India. That is a fact that would surprise nobody. But the latest study from BARC India about the game’s humongous popularity does reveal some startling numbers. The sport clocked 12.3 billion impressions (normalised at 30 mins) in 2018 in spite of the absence of international tournaments in the year. Women viewership, albeit lower than their counterparts, displayed signs of growth year-on-year. Women viewers are to the tune of 48 per cent of all cricket viewers, up from 295 million in 2016 to 342 million in 2018.

The trend of non-sports channels carrying cricket content continues. However, viewership ROI was muted in 2018.

IPL, as a property, continues to grow year-on-year. The current season clocked 1.58 billion impressions and 326 billion Man Minutes. 81 per cent of viewership is contributed by Hindi and regional language broadcast, up from 77 per cent from the previous season.

Youth (15-30-year-olds) still dominates cricket viewership with 35 per cent of live cricket viewership coming from this audience.

Cricket-hungry Indian viewers are lapping up relatively newer cricket content like women’s cricket, domestic T20, international T20 leagues etc.

Sports viewership year-on-year has gone up in the 2016-2018 period. From 43 billion impressions in 2016 the viewership has gone up to 51 billion impressions, growing at a CAGR of nine per cent. Though other sports like kabaddi, wrestling and football are gaining popularity within the Indian audiences, cricket is the jewel in the sports viewership crown with upwards of 65 per cent of viewership contribution year-on-year.

Interestingly, the footprint of cricket is not just restricted to sports channels but goes well beyond them. Overall, there was a 25 per cent growth of cricket viewership in 2018 over 2016. For the same period, cricket viewership on sports channels grew by 79 per cent.

The dynamics of live cricket on non–sports channels has seen a change from 2018. The drop in non- sports channels viewership for cricket content in 2018 can be attributed to majority of IPL 12 telecast moving to channels in the sports genre.

The last three years have seen a steady increase in cricket content on sports channels. Apart from international cricket matches to the national favourite IPL, viewers today have a wide array of choice.

From domestic competitions like the Ranji Trophy, the Duleep Trophy, the Vijaya Hazare Trophy etc to International T20 Leagues like Big Bash League, Mzansi Super League, Pakistan Super League etc to popular celebrity leagues we can see it all on the small screen.

Cricket content on television is approaching the 1 million hour mark annually, with 89,000 hours being clocked in 2018. Non–sports channels carried 4,700 hours of cricket content in 2016 and upwards of 5,400 hours in 2018. Some news channels have the same cricket program titles running over the last three years.

The number of sports channels has witnessed a steady rise on the back of both HD and regional channel launches. Popular matches are also simulcast on non-sports channels and this number has gone north as well. Non-live cricket content also makes up for respectable airtime.

T20 World Cup in 2016 and Champions Trophy in 2017 contributed 21 per cent & 14 per cent to the total cricket viewership of the year respectively.

The absence of any major ICC event results in a 28 per cent drop in international cricket viewing for 2018. IPL in 2018 grew by 19 per cent over the previous year.

Live cricket content contributed to a minority share to (22 per cent in 2016, 15 per cent in 2017 and 16 per cent in 2018) cricket content telecast. But in absolute terms, live cricket has grown by 30 per cent from 10,882 hours in 2016 to 14,180 hours in 2018.

The T20 format has gained popularity over the years and multiple leagues have mushroomed both internationally and locally. This format dominates content as well as viewership on television.

The biggest international extravaganza of a particular year dominates cricket viewership: T20 World Cup in 2016 and Champions Trophy in 2017. However, with the sheer number of games being played between first-class cricket playing nations across the long format of the game – Test cricket is high on telecast time when it comes to international matches.

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