The second week of the Vivo Indian Premier League saw it reach 423 million viewers across the country on multiple platforms from the Star India stable. The league, currently on air on the Star Sports network on TV and Hotstar on digital, has thus registered 10 per cent growth across platforms over the last year (the first two weeks).
According to BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council of India) data provided by Star India, the IPL registered a cumulative reach - total number of people to have sampled the tournament - of 303 million in the first two weeks in TV homes, and an additional 9.5 million in out-of-home TV viewing (restaurants, bars and pubs). Last year, the IPL registered a reach of 295 million viewers in the first two weeks. This includes only home viewership, not out of home. The tournament's reach on Hotstar for the first weeks was 110 million. This data is for the all India market, including viewers above 2 years old.
Star India MD Sanjay Gupta says, "We set out with the aim of increasing the total reach (TV+digital) of the IPL this year to 700 million and given the trend in the first two weeks, we are on way to achieving it. Since this is the first time that TV and digital rights rest with the same company, it is also now possible to look at TV reach and viewership holistically across platforms. Media is getting fragmented with the emergence of digital and this way, advertisers now have access to total viewership data."
In terms of viewership, impressions in million, the tournament has seen a 27 per cent jump over the last year at a total viewership across platforms amounting to 289 million in urban markets measuring viewers above 2 years old. Since viewership refers to the number of people watching the IPL at any given point in its telecast, an increase in reach means that the time spent on the tournament is also increasing. Of the 289 million impressions, TV viewing audiences at home contributed 247 million, while out-of-home TV viewing accounted for 5.5 million and 36 million came from Hotstar.
With Star India pushing localisation of the IPL broadcast in the South Indian markets and West Bengal, the states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh/Telangana along with West Bengal saw viewership increase 39 per cent to 100 million. Viewership on Hotstar in these states was 12 million, while viewership at home was 87 million.
"We are seeing the fringe viewer coming back to the IPL and that is because content has become accessible. It is available on TV and digital, and in multiple languages. This has helped get in the viewer who would watch India matches but did not follow IPL. Engagement has increased also because of the quality of the matches - how competitive they have been and the return of Chennai Super Kings and the form they have been in," Gupta says.
On digital, the engagement has come from Star's strategy to add an element of gaming to the digital telecast. The "watch and play" feature, Gupta reveals, has helped increase the time spent on the platform, and also helped with gathering feedback about the game. Watch and play is a live prediction game that viewers can play while watching the match on Hotstar. Apart from predictions, the feature also allows viewers to express through emojis. Hotstar's data says 1.7 billion emojis have been sent on the feature so far, giving an idea of the engagement on the platform.