New Delhi: The ICC Women’s World Cup final match between India and England held on 23 July at Lord’s in London clocked 19.53 million impressions on television, making it the most watched women’s sporting event in India so far.

The data shared by TV ratings agency Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) was calculated across seven television channels, six of which were part of the Star Sports network.

Impressions refer to the number of individuals in thousands of a target audience who viewed an event, averaged across minutes. It is also known as television viewership in thousands, as per BARC India.

In a heartbreaking end to a fantastic run, India lost to England by nine runs. In the run-up to the final, the team led by Mithali Raj beat England, Pakistan, the West Indies and Australia and captured the popular imagination at home.

“Its a good sign. It’s the public’s responsibility to back the Indian team when they’re playing so well. Today, with social media being very powerful, everyone is far more aware and people are watching on their mobile phones as well," said former Indian opener Virender Sehwag, who was actively tweeting during the World Cup final.

“Super proud of the girls. Tough luck today but womens cricket in India has truly arrived. Thank you girls. Salute your spirit. #WWC17Final," read one of his tweets.

According to Indranil Das Blah, founding partner at Kwan Entertainment and Marketing Solutions, a sports marketing agency, these numbers are phenomenal for a sports format that wasn’t really followed earlier.

“I think there is enough appetite for content beyond men’s cricket. The audience watching today is a combination of cricket fans and a brand new curious fan who wants to know what all the fuss is about," Blah added.

The numbers are telling, especially in comparison to sporting events involving women held last year.

In 2016, the women’s singles badminton final at the Olympic Games in Rio De Janiero, Brazil, on 19 August clocked 17.3 million impressions as India’s P.V. Sindhu took on World No. 1 Carolina Marin of Spain.

The duel, in which Sindhu went down fighting to win India’s only silver medal, was testimony to the advent of a new television viewer as well. To be sure though, these numbers were calculated across five TV channels and are not exactly comparable.

But the women’s finals numbers still pale in comparison to the men’s cricket tournaments.

The 18 July ICC Champions Trophy finals between India and Pakistan clocked 71.1 million impressions across six TV channels. To be fair, an India Pakistan match has always generated excitement.

The ICC World T20 final between West Indies and England on 3 April garnered 41.8 million impressions across four TV channels in India.

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