New Delhi: The eleventh edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) has had a strong opening with 213.9 million impressions across urban and rural markets for the first week, up 8.1% from last year. While 125.1 million impressions came from the urban market, 88.8 million were from rural areas.

The numbers, provided by Broadcast Audience Research Council (Barc) India, represent viewers above two years of age who watched the matches across 10 television feeds of Star India, the official broadcast network of the T20 tournament.

Star India, however, said that its core IPL audience demographic—men aged more than 15 in the socio-economic category AB in urban India—registered a 23% growth over last year to reach 273 million impressions.

For the first time, the tournament is being broadcast in four regional languages—Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Bengali. Star India said that there has been a 30% increase in reach in south Indian markets.

Impressions refer to the number of individuals in thousands of a target audience who viewed an event, averaged across minutes. Reach is the number of target households in thousands where the event was viewed for at least one minute.

The broadcast network also claimed that a total of 82.4 million viewers logged on to its video-streaming platform Hotstar to watch the matches in the first week, registering 76% growth over last year.

“The viewership growth is commendable and I expect 20% ad revenue growth in this IPL season. However, it would be interesting to see if Star can sustain this growth in the next four years, given it has paid a huge amount of money to BCCI," said independent media-buying consultant Harsha Joshi.

Star India’s CEO Uday Shankar had told Mint earlier this month that the firm is expecting this year’s revenue to go up to Rs2,000 crore, compared with Rs1,200 crore that Sony Pictures Network made in 2017. Last year, Star India bought the five-year television and digital media rights to the IPL for Rs16,347.5 crore.

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