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Shivam Mavi of Kolkata Knight Riders celebrates the wicket of Jos Buttler during match 12 of IPL 2020 at Dubai International Cricket Stadium in Dubai on Wednesday. (BCCI/IPL/ANI Photo)
Shivam Mavi of Kolkata Knight Riders celebrates the wicket of Jos Buttler during match 12 of IPL 2020 at Dubai International Cricket Stadium in Dubai on Wednesday. (BCCI/IPL/ANI Photo)

269 million watched IPL 2020 opening week, 15% jump in viewing minute

  • 147 million viewers came from urban markets while 122 million were from rural markets
  • Female viewership stood at 43% while male viewership touched 57%

New Delhi: The 13th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), being held in UAE, witnessed a marginal increase in the total reach during the opening week which stood at 269 million, a mere 1% jump over last year across urban and rural markets. The dip can be attributed to the fact there was one less match (seven in total) in this year's opening week of the league over 2019. The tournament was also broadcast across 20 channels versus 25 channels in 2019 for the opening day. Out of this, 147 million viewers came from urban markets while 122 million were from rural markets. Female viewership stood at 43% but while male viewership touched 57%.

However, there was a high engagement among fans, despite one less match and fewer channels compared to last year, as viewing minutes (60.6 billion) went up by 15% and average impressions per match (39 million) grew by 21%. 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 numbers, provided by Broadcast Audience Research Council (Barc) India, represent viewers above two years of age who watched the matches across 21 television channels of Star India, the official broadcast network of the T20 tournament.

The opening match between Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings was watched by 158 million fans registering 21% jump over last year. It garnered 52 million impressions, 29% from last year with total viewing minutes of 11.2 billion minutes. The second to seventh match continued to garner more than 34 million impressions viewed by over 100 million viewers match on match. The data revealed that 11 million more viewers per match compared were registered over 2019.

Over-the-top (OTT) video streaming platforms have also witnessed a 32% increase in the user base for the IPL week over the previous week, primarily driven by massive gains seen in official streaming platform of the league Disney+Hotstar. The agency also said that the usage of fantasy apps witnessed 80% increase in users during the first week of IPL over the previous week. This is based on data on ABC, 15-45 year old Android smartphone users across urban markets in over one lakh towns/cities.

Advertising volumes also witnessed 15% growth within Star Sports set of channels in the opening week as compared to last year. While advertiser count jumped by 19% the brand count increased by 22%. A total of 143 brands advertised in the first week of IPL 2020 over 117 brands last year.

IPL is the biggest cricket property for Star India, fetching over 2,000 crore ad revenue in 2019. It is hoping to cross this revenue figure this year, despite the covid-19 disruption. In an interview with Mint Gautam Thakar, CEO, Star Sports said despite the enormous demand and record-breaking viewership expected, the network has not increased ad slot prices keeping it the same as what was planned for March 2020. IPL typically is scheduled between April and May which has been postponed due to lockdown this year.

"The viewership and engagement has beaten all records which is really encouraging. Interestingly, the historic team strengths have changed - we see that the engagement rate for Rajasthan Royals vs CSK is almost on par with Mumbai Indians vs Kolkata Knight Riders. In terms of visibility, the impact looks good for now; though it's still early to comment on the overall advertising RoI effect," said Vanita Keswani, CEO, Madison Media Sigma.

Despite the covid disruption, the big plus for Star has been the long advertising hiatus for most brands, and the pre-Diwali window where advertisers have saved up big media budgets for IPL.

"Though somehow the hype has not converted into as much of a viewership surge as was predicted nevertheless the overall numbers have jumped. It shows IPL remains a family favourite. I beleive the overall broadcast revenue has crossed Rs. 2,000 crore and it may hit Rs. 2,400 crore mark. Star is also looking to corner Rs. 375-400 crore on DisneyHotstar despite going behind a paywall,"said Sandeep Goyal, chairman of Mogae Media, a Mumbai-based marketing and communication agency.

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