Will the IPL Become the Most Watched Sports Event in the World?

Cricket is the second most popular sport worldwide with over 2.5 billion fans around the world. When it comes to the most popular cricket events, the Indian Premier League is what would easily come to the minds of many.

The IPL was founded by the Board of Control for Cricket in India in 2007, but the very first season happened in 2008. It is now the most-attended cricket league in the world. Many cricket fans would follow platforms like the 10CRIC IPL website for news, teams, and betting.

IPL Viewership in Numbers

In 2015, the BCCI reported that the IPL was able to contribute more than 12.5 billion INR to the country’s economy. In 2018, the estimated value of the league already reached 6.3 billion USD. It has been growing since then.

The 2020 edition of the league also broke some records. This was when the IPL was able to surpass 400 billion views in minutes, as reported by the Broadcast Audience Research Council of India (BARC). Before that year, the IPL was able to record 326 billion views in minutes, which was already bigger than what the Cricket World Cup had (344 billion viewing minutes).

In total, the 2020 edition of the IPL was able to register 31.57 million average impressions, which is the viewership per minute.

The head of Sports Star India, Sanjog Gupta, said that the IPL coverage is in five regional languages which were in Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, Tamil, and Kannada. This helped push viewership up 28 percent in 2020.

Gupta also talked about how they have been working hard to ensure that the broadcast last year was coordinated properly despite the venues being in the UAE. Gupta said, “There were innovations such as in-stadia fan cheer and fan walls so that viewers could get closer to the game.”

They also logged that more women and children watched the IPL that year with a viewership growth of 24 percent for each. Meanwhile, the growth in men’s viewership was at 18 to 20 percent.

This year, Star Sports still have broadcasting rights in India. Aside from Star Sports, other international broadcasters are Disney+ Hotstar, SuperSport, Fox Cricket, Yupp TV, Willow TV, Hotstar Canada, Sky Sports, beIN Sports, and ESPN+. These are broadcasters from around the world.

Are People Still Tuned In This Year?

Hence its name, the IPL is not just about Indian cricket. Overseas players also participate in this league, making it a global affair. The IPL is also the home of many cricket superstars like Virat Kohli, Chris Gayle, David Warner, Jos Buttler, and many more.

This year’s IPL in particular is also very special since for the first time in a long while, the league once again has 10 teams in total. Gujarat Titans and Lucknow Super Giants are the two new additional teams. This makes cricket fans more curious about how the league will turn out this season.

However, recent reports suggest that the IPL 2022 isn’t doing as great as its previous editions in terms of ratings. BARC data shows that the IPL ratings have dropped further in its 5th week.

This is mainly the reason why Star Sports has fallen to the fourth spot in terms of ratings. InsideSport also reported that the TV viewership of the IPL in different age groups dropped by over 30%. This sent jitters to this season’s advertisers and there are reports that they are now reaching out to broadcasters for compensation.

One of the advertisers this season said, “See we have paid 15% more and the numbers are down by 28-30%. It’s quite a dampener for us. We are talking to Star Sports for some compensatory inventory and hopeful of the solution.”

Shashank Srivastava, the senior executive director of Maruti Suzuki India, also talked about the recent dip in ratings. According to Srivastava, Maruti is also now talking to Star Sports about the compensatory spots with the drop in ratings.

Srivastava said, “In the first 25 matches this season if you look at our TG, which is male and between 22 and 40 years of age, the TVR (television ratings) drop is around 58% and much higher than the average viewership decline of around 30-35%.

“We are in discussions with Star Sports to provide additional FCT (free commercial time) on live matches so that the overall reach numbers and commitments that were made can be met.”

All that said, it’s hard to say once again if the IPL will ever become the most-watched sports event in the world. Major football leagues like the FIFA World Cup and the UEFA Champions League remain more popular.

However, the ICC is still aiming to get a cricket out there, especially in the US. Cricket USA is now slowly trying to revive the cricket scene in the country, and if this turns out to be successful, then making cricket the most popular sport may look more achievable.

Huynh Nguyen

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