is loud and clear. SET Max and BCCI are jubilant about the stupendous viewership the Indian Premier League has received. The highest TVR recorded was 8.59 during the match between Kolkata Knight Riders and Bangalore Royal Challengers on Friday, as per TAM Media Research, in the six metro cities (C&S, 4+, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Delhi, Chennai and Hyderabad). Nobody, from the official broadcaster SET Max to industry veterans, seemed to have fathomed that the league could have generated such high viewership.
Maxus, the media agency that handles IPL, itself did not envisage a rating above 8. "Though we knew that the first few matches would have huge ratings, we did not expect it to be this high. We were expecting a TVR of above 6, in the first week", says, Ajit Varghese, managing director, Maxus. According to him, great teams compositions (the audience really got to see Ricky Ponting with Ishant Sharma playing as a team), interesting matches, enthusiasm around the league, Bollywood adding glamour to the event have made it possible. Sneha Rajani, executive vice-president and business head, MAX, is overjoyed with the outcome. "Honestly, it is much higher than what we had expected. It just shows how powerful the tournament and league is", says an excited Rajani.
But Rajani is hopeful that the drop in viewership will not be substantial. "Before the tournament started, people said it won't do well from day 1. Now, after seeing the result, they say it won't be able to sustain this viewership. So the goalpost seems to be moving", she states, sarcastically. SET Max is directing all efforts towards keeping the hype alive and viewership high. Moreover, the fervor has just begun to build as each of the teams make their foray.
Another reason why one would think that there's only downhill from this point for IPL is that this viewership was only for the weekend matches. During the weekday match, IPL will have strong resistance from the daily soaps which have long relationships with its audiences. Besides, de Souza says, STAR Plus has 'Kya Aap Paanchvi Pass Se Tez Hain', a quiz show hosted by Shah Rukh Khan. "When 'Paanchvi Pass' starts, the matches won't garner such high viewership, because the viewership will get divided," she adds. But it's not like it was an easy task for the tournament to battle for eyeballs. "IPL has managed this despite solid properties such as 'Ustaadon ke Ustaad Final' and 'Vivaah' on Zee", observes, Divya Radhakrishnan, vice-president, TME. But she is of the opinion that from 8 the TVR can fall to 4, not lower.
On closer analysis of the pattern of viewership, one infers that the playing city has witnessed the highest TVRs for the match. Could this mean that all the matches will see viewers rooting for their city? The answer is yes and no. "I think it's a combination of both city and favourite players. As the tournament progresses, one will see different regions supporting different teams, though on the face of it, it does look like its city specific, but that could change", opines Rajani. Meanwhile, despite being a cricket-crazy market, Chennai hasn't been cheering its team, if the TVR data is to go by. And that is because of it is a CAS-affected market.
It has been a roaring and encouraging start for the biggest sports property in the country. The roar could subside and exceed in the time to come. For now, the third umpires have thrown both their hands up in the air.
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