New Delhi: The general election seems to have taken its toll on the Indian Premier League, or IPL, television viewership—at least for the start of its second season.
While the 20-over tournament, which took off amid high-decibel fanfare in Cape Town on Saturday, attracted a lot more viewers for the opening matches, the total television rating points, or TRPs, declined at least 16% on account of weak viewer engagement.
Seven million viewers tuned in for the inaugural match between Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings and 8.1 million for the second match between defending champions Rajasthan Royals and Royal Challengers Bangalore. That compares with 5.6 million viewers who were drawn to the inaugural match of IPL’s first edition in 2008.
Pitch report: Seven million on TV saw Mumbai Indians overwhelm Chennai Super Kings on Saturday, but the match TRP was just 3.6%. AP
The viewership data is based on an analysis done by Mumbai-based audience measurement firm Audience Measurement Analytics Ltd (aMap), among households in six metros— Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore and Hyderabad—receiving cable and satellite television.
According to aMap, the TRP for the two matches was 3.6% and 3.8%, respectively, against last year’s TRP of 4.3%.
“To be sure, IPL attracted a lot more viewers this year, but its TRPs are low compared with last year because a large percentage of people did not watch the matches for too long,” said Joseph Eapen, director of research at aMap.
TRPs take into account the number of people who have watched a particular programme for at least 1 minute. So while the number of viewers who tuned in to IPL was significantly more than last year, many of them did not spend more than 1 minute every time they tuned in and didn’t count in terms of TRPs.
And why did they not spend so much time on IPL? “A lot of viewers kept flipping between news channels for the live election coverage and SET MAX (the channel on which IPL is being aired) and this diluted their engagement with the tournament,” said Eapen.
The country is in the middle of its 15th general election. The first phase of voting was on 16 April.
The other reason cited by observers for lower viewer engagement this year is the airing of two matches on the inaugural day against one last year.
“It was pretty much expected that with more matches on the same day, the viewership will decline,” said a media buyer who has bought considerable amount of commercial air time on IPL.
SET MAX executives, however, downplayed the first day’s data saying it only gives the highlights, not the real picture. “It’s too early to tell how IPL viewership is faring. We should wait for a week,” said Rohit Gupta, president, network sales, Multi Screen Media Pvt. Ltd.
And aMap has collated its data from only the top six metros, while the matches are likely to be seen among a majority of the 80 million cable and satellite households spread across the country.
A detailed analysis is expected to be made available by the other viewership rating agency, TAM Media Research Pvt Ltd, on Monday.