New Delhi: The interest in the Indian Premier League cricket tournament is surging.

As many as 37.1 million people watched the first three matches of the third season of the league, compared with 29.4 million last year, though the percentage of people watching the matches at a given point of time declined by 9%.

Graphics: Ahmed Raza Khan / Mint

However, television rating points (TRP), which denote the percentage of viewers watching a particular TV programme at a certain point of time, declined to 5%, compared with 5.5% in the first two seasons.

Experts said the viewership trends of the first three matches are a reflection of the league’s coming of age in the Indian market.

“We had estimated that IPL’s reach will increase but ratings will come down because time spent on each match will reduce," said Shubha George, chief operating officer of Mediaedge:cia, a media planning and buying agency.

George said the TRPs are an indication of the tournament maturing and people adopting team loyalties and choosing only certain matches to watch. “This is unlike the first year where the format was not known and viewers watched every match to understand the concept," she added.

He said TAM numbers do not take into account all the out-of-home viewing taking place in bars and restaurants. “But if we add all that up, it is getting really huge," he added.

TAM, however, has captured viewership data on direct-to-home (DTH) television platform, which shows a marginal growth.

According to TAM, TRPs in the sample size of 4.5 million DTH households in India grew from 6.7% last year to 6.9% this year and the reach nearly doubled from 2.7 million to 4.4 million viewers.

Meanwhile, the popularity of the league has also boosted advertising volumes for SET Max by 25% between season one and three for the first five matches, advertising- expenditure data given out by TAM Media show.

Even the number of brands associated with IPL for the first five matches have grown from 28 in the first season to 35 in 2009 and 37 this year.

Vodafone Essar Ltd, Samsung India Electronics Ltd and Videocon Industries Ltd have emerged as the top three advertisers during commercial breaks this year so far while Vodafone, LG Electronics India Ltd and Tata DoCoMo are among the top three most prominent brands.