Indian Premier League and the FIFA World Cup in Russia have been the key drivers for sports viewership on television in India during 2018. Professional leagues of kabaddi, wrestling, football and badminton are the other major contributors with the Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang also adding significant numbers.
According to the Broadcast Audience Research Council report What India Watched in 2018, the FIFA World Cup has accounted for 111 million viewers and 231 million impressions. Kerala, Assam, North-east, Sikkim and West Bengal together contributed to 81% of the total FIFA World Cup 2018 audience on Indian TV. While FIFA World Cup 2018 helped boost viewership for the sports genre, it also lifted Total TV viewership, the report said.
IPL was expectedly the most watched event in 2018 as well. Star Sports Network across 17 channels had recorded 448 million unique viewers during the IPL 2018 with an unprecedented 1.4 billion impressions. The IPL is performing even better for the ongoing 2019 edition with the opening weekend capturing 219 million viewers at a 31% growth rate.
The ‘What India Watched in 2018’ report indicates the following key trends with IPL emerging the clear winner in weekly sports genre division for 2018:
> Cricket remained the big driver of sports viewership across the year with the highest peaks appearing during the IPL.
> Viewership for Commonwealth Games 2018 was also high
> During FIFA 2018, in spite of a bilateral cricket series, fans tuned in to TV for the football action in Russia even for the games played well past midnight.
> Indian athletes spirited show in Jakarta and Palembang clearly reflected in the viewership of Asian Games
> Kabaddi clearly emerged as the second most watched sport on TV and dominated sports viewership during the Pro Kabaddi League
> Sports broadcast on regional channels delivered a fifth of total sports viewership.
> Sports is the single largest genre for English language consumption. Also, in Sports, there are more channels in English than in other languages.
The report reveals that the kabaddi, wrestling, football and badminton leagues, along with major events like FIFA World Cup and Asian Games boosted sports viewership with their own peaks.
Among regional sports markets, Kerala at 28% was the highest contributor followed by Assam, North-east, Sikkim (27%) and West Bengal (25%).
The report also shows that the HD viewer spent more time on TV watching the FIFA games than the rest of the viewers. This was true across all matches, and particularly for the final.
The report also revealed that in terms of impressions, the viewership for Hindi-only channels was a notch higher than English channels. However, the volume of advertising on English channels was much higher than on Hindi channels.