afaqs!

POV: Will too much cricket put off viewers?

By Anindita Sarkar , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media Publishing | March 10, 2011
afaqs! speaks to a few industry experts to find out whether televison viewers are in for a cricket overdose.

The ICC Cricket World Cup will be followed immediately by the IPL T20 games. Will cricket be able to retain its viewers?

Navin Khemka
Senior vice-president, ZenithOptimedia

Ratings on cricket have dropped already. During a multi-nation cricket tournament, much depends on the team's (India) performance to drive viewership. Last year, the T20 World Cup saw almost 40 per cent fewer viewers than the IPL, given India's performance and exit.

The mega event in the subcontinent, with the added media coverage only adds to the clutter. The IPL begins within a few days after that and that is another 200-plus hours of cricket in India. In the World Cup, we expect the key matches (India's matches, the quarter-finals, semi-finals, and finals) to be blockbusters. The IPL will see regional spikes in viewership, depending on the teams and players playing. It's more like everyday primetime entertainment -- you can always come back even if you miss a few shows. The fatigue will get evened out in regional spikes.

Manas Mishra
EVP, country head, Mudra Connext

We had 181 days of cricket (that includes IPL 3 and India's matches) in 2010. Before the IPL era, India played an average of three-to-four series a year, plus a multi-nation tournament. But, more cricket hasn't meant fatigue to a majority of Indians. This is demonstrated by the high ratings of the India-Bangladesh World Cup opener that followed a long India-South Africa series. Viewership of the India-South Africa test matches was quite good, too.

On an average, Indian men (lighter TV viewers) watch television for nearly two hours every day. While the total amount of television viewing does not increase dramatically, live cricket matches take away a large portion of this when India plays.

Unless India's performance plummets at the World Cup, viewership will be sustained, and IPL 4 will add women to the already cricket-crazy male audiences.

Joy Chakraborthy
Chief revenue officer, ZEEL

Yes, the overdose of cricket has led to fatigue. About five years back, one-day matches would score ratings of eight or ten. Today, a rating of four or five is considered good. Ratings for test matches have come down to one.

Also, with so many media platforms conveying information on matches, sitting and watching cricket all day is no longer a must. Moreover, channels across genres are creating differentiated content and there is less navigation of audiences from genres such as GECs or music.

Fluctuations in viewership patterns (for India's matches) do take place depending on performance. The good part of the story is that the GECs and cricket channels have learnt to co-exist. Advertisers are ready to take risks and there is enough money for everyone in the market.

Shailesh Kapoor
CEO and co-founder, Ormax Media

Cricket engages India in a way that can never lead to long-term fatigue. But yes, two back-to-back events will create short-term fatigue.

The World Cup is a premium event, but also one that's driven primarily by India's performance. The format of this World Cup is such that India will definitely be in the tournament till the quarter-finals. Also, five out of six matches featuring India (in the league stage) are on weekends. So, we can expect high viewership.

The most interesting influence of the World Cup will be on IPL 4. This is the first time IPL will be played just after a major ICC event. While IPL is a strong brand, the World Cup will certainly impact it -- even the most diehard cricket fans won't watch 90 days of back-to-back cricket.

I expect a drop of 15-20 per cent. Two things the World Cup will not impact are the advertising on IPL (it's largely sold out), and IPL's brand equity.

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