Cricket is the most popular sport in the country, and without a doubt, it’s the most-watched sporting event on television and online too. The country’s love for this sport is evident in how cricket clinics are everywhere and that people of all ages are seen playing this sport not only on the field but also on the streets.
Throughout the year, people would scour through reviews of 10CRIC, Betway, Purewin, Megapari, and other top bookies in India to place their bets on their favorite teams or players online. Indians love to gamble, and cricket mixes so well with this. The cricket betting industry is said to be worth billions of USD. However, an accurate measure is hard to come by because of the underground market. In 2016, Hindustan Times reported that people would wager around $200 million for every ODI match.
It’s not surprising that the country boasts of the most popular cricket tournament today, the Indian Premier League (IPL). The IPL is participated by both local and overseas players. Currently, eight teams participate, and the second phase of this year’s season just started last week.
The VIVO IPL 2021 started earlier this year, on April 9 in India, and was initially scheduled to end in May. However, just a few days since May came in, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the IPL committee have decided to postpone the rest of the season due to the IPL bio-secure bubble breach and the rising cases of COVID 19 in the country. Eventually, the BCCI decided to continue this season in the UAE from September 19 to October 17.
Many are saying that the IPL should have been postponed this year, but some are happy to see the tournament. The BCCI decided to pursue this season, and finish the whole tournament shows how much people care about it.
How Many People Are Watching the IPL This Year?
This season is reported to have an average of 105 million unique viewers during the first two weeks. While this is already a vast number, there is a decrease of 9.5 percent compared to last year’s statistics, according to the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India. Last year’s data show that an average of 116 million viewers watched the first two weeks of the tournament with 14 matches.
According to the official TV broadcast partner of the IPL this year, Star and Disney India (Star Sports), the first eight matches of this year’s season that took place from April 9 to 16 had a total of 268 million viewers aged two and above from urban and rural areas. This fell 13 percent short of what the 2020 season had, which was 269 million viewers.
Regarding the number of viewing minutes per match during the first 14 matches, this year’s season is standing at 6.62 billion with a decline of 20 percent from last year, which was at 8.34 billion. This makes this season quite an outlier, and some say that it is because of the pandemic. Indeed, most of the country’s population is still directly or indirectly dealing with pandemic-related issues that they can’t find the time or interest to watch the current season.
IPL Phase 2 Viewership
There are no details yet on the latest viewership numbers of the IPL phase 2. However, we may see a better number on this as the COVID cases in India are not as severe as before the matches were suspended. What’s also great about holding the second phase of this year’s IPL in the UAE is that they are given the signal to welcome fans back to the stadiums at limited capacity.
Another factor that might boost the viewership of the remaining matches is that it is close to the biggest festival season in India, Diwali. Brands see the IPL as an excellent opportunity to leverage the scale of their reach, which is why the IPL could board more sponsors quickly.
The 2022 edition of the tournament is also getting everybody curious. The BCCI has already confirmed that two new teams will be added to the mix, which could tickle many cricket fans' curiosity. The current season is not yet over, but many are already tracking updates for the next one. We can expect that more people will be able to tune in next year.