File photo: AFP
File photo: AFP

Cricket drives India’s sports fever

  • Total 766 million people sampled sports content in 2018 but cricket locked 12.3 billion impressions despite the absence of international tournaments in the year, says a BARC report
  • Youth continues to be the highest consumer of live cricket with 35% of its viewership contributed by 15-30 year olds in 2019

NEW DELHI : The popularity of sports in India is driven by cricket, which made for content viewed by 93% of all sports viewers in the country in 2018. According to a report by BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council), a total of 766 million people sampled sports content over the year but cricket locked 12.3 billion impressions despite the absence of international tournaments in the year.

Impressions refer to the number of individuals in thousands of a target audience who viewed an event, averaged across minutes. BARC India is the country’s TV viewership monitoring agency.

The top two most watched ODI matches between 2016 and 2018 were played between India and Pakistan. Youth continues to be the highest consumer of live cricket with 35% of its viewership contributed by 15-30 year olds in 2019.

Women form 48% of cricket viewers for 2018 with 342 million viewers. Women’s cricket viewership albeit lower than their counterparts displayed signs of growth year-on-year. Women’s World Cup final between India and England had a viewership of 39 million impressions.

With over 89,000 hours, cricket programming is up by 79% in 2018 over 2016. Cricket content on television is approaching the one million hour mark annually. Non–sports channels carried 4,700 hours of cricket content in 2016 and upwards of 5,400 hours in 2018. Some news channels have the same cricket program titles running over the last three years. Interestingly, the footprint of cricket is not just restricted to sports channels and goes well beyond them. Overall, there is 25% growth of cricket viewership in 2018 over 2016, for the same period, cricket viewership on sports channels grew by 79%. The trend of non-sports channels carrying cricket content also, however, continues.

The IPL continues to score year-over-year, growing both in terms of viewers as well as average watch time per viewer – 28 minutes to 34 minutes from 2016 to 2018. In 2019 clocked in 1.58 billion impressions minus the final match viewership. 50% of IPL viewers are less than 30 years of age. Eight regions including Maharashtra/Goa, Andhra Pradesh/Telangana, Tamil Nadu/Pondicherry, Gujarat/Daman & Diu, West Bengal, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh/Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh constituted 75% of IPL viewership this year. 81% of the viewership was contributed by Hindi and regional language broadcast - up from 77% in the previous season.

There was a 14% growth in ads across all cricket content from 2016 to 2018. E-Commerce has emerged as the dominant sector with the share of ads going up from 14% in 2016 to 42% in 2018.

Cricket hungry Indian viewers are lapping up relatively newer cricket content like women’s cricket, domestic T20, international T20 leagues etc, the report said.


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