Indian Women’s cricket and ICC Women’s World Cup have scaled yet another unprecedented peak.
“People know about us. But they don’t recognize us. Because they don’t get to see us often. Because all our matches are not (shown) on television,” Indian women’s cricket team captain Mithali Raj had once lamented in an interview.
Mithali won’t complain any more. All the games of the ICC Women’s World Cup were live on television and digital platforms. The viewership has created broadcast records.
As per BARC data, the final match between India and England hosted at Lord’s in London on 23 July recorded a reach of around 126 million. Additionally, the whole tournament delivered 463 million impressions.
The data calculated for the week 30 by BARC also shows that the final match became the top priority for the Indian audience.
These numbers are an unprecedented high for the ICC Women’s World Cup and for the women cricket in India. These are for sure a shot in the arm for women cricketers, who struggled for recognition in spite of excellence in talent, performance and success.
This record upsurge was also recorded on the digital video platform Hotstar – the digital medium webcaster for the tournament.
India’s second ever entry into a women’s World Cup final had recorded a peak concurrency of 1.9 million simultaneous viewers. This happened in the tragic 48th over when India needed a mere 11 runs off 12 deliveries.
This was higher than the average concurrency of many men’s marquee cricket tournaments on Hotstar in the last one year, a feat in its own right and an inflection point in women’s sport. While IPL 2017 was a predictable list of state-wise tune-ins, consistent with the team loyalties, the women’s World Cup saw UP as a surprise entrant, which along with Maharashtra contributed to 25% of total viewership.
This unprecedented success, in spite of the loss in the final, is a reason for all the praise and the laurel that the women’s blue brigade deserves. Impressive numbers are recorded on ground. Record numbers are registered “on air”. The cumulative figures emerge as the potential opportunity to register yet another unprecedented number in the commercial play – the brand and sponsorship market.
“Yes the brand endorsement market will open up for the top five stars of the team. Brands will want to strike low cost deals for a start. This euphoria will last for a few months . This is the best time for win-win deals for both the sides,” says brand and business strategist Harish Bijoor, owner, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc.
The challenge next is to sustain this high point of women’s cricket. With success come expectations. The consistency and continuity are the key. There has to be a continuity in action and broadcast commitment. Then the onus will be on girls to back that continuity with consistency in performance.