Debashish ChakrabortyPublished: 12 Feb 2019, 12:00 AM

From GECs to cricket; the major shift in women viewership

In the prime time spot, Indian Premier League (IPL) has reached out to 77% more women than any other Hindi GEC.

The triumph over the New Zealand ODI series has brought the spotlight back on the men in blue. With the upcoming cricketing calendar packed with opportunities, both home and away, the cricketing season is all set to turn up the summer heat. Be it Dhoni's lightning-speed stumping or the seamers' knockout-spell, everything seems to be going swell for the Indian Cricket Team. Not to mention, the followers – not just men but also women - are high on hopes with the upcoming Australia series, expecting another washout of the Aussies on the home turf. If this wasn't enough, the summer will also host VIVO IPL 2019 and ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 - two of the biggest crowd-puller and cash-minting sporting events are being held back-to-back!

Cricket has always been a crowd-puller in India and with the upcoming blockbuster cricketing calendar, the viewership numbers are set to skyrocket. The young and aggressive line up of players have consistently proven their athleticism irrespective of the soil colour. The bygone test win against the Aussies and the recent ODI victory against the Kiwis have bought India back into the radar. Before the conglomeration of cricket (VIVO IPL 2019 and ICC Cricket World Cup 2019) begins, the Indian Cricket Team will take on Australia at home in two T20s and five ODIs. This would be followed by the annual T20 extravaganza- VIVO IPL 2019 which will commence from 23rd March. The summer will end with the ICC World Cup 2019, which will showcase 10 teams jousting against each other to win the esteemed trophy. With the perfect blend of world class cricket, entertainment and glamour, brands will be eyeing on these two opportunities, to reach to the maximum consumer base.

From GECs to cricket; the major shift in women viewership

The reach of cricket is undoubtedly massive in India. During VIVO IPL 2018, over 603 million viewers were glued to broadcasting channels and an additional 202 million on the online streaming platform Hotstar. With such a humongous reach, brands are more than willing to jump on the brand visibility wagon to mileage this event, which acts as a brilliant opportunity to reach out to more than half of the country. The diverse TG including a sizable women viewers make these events every marketer's favourite. If reports are to be believed, the broadcaster has already cashed-in around Rs 700-750 crore in sponsorship from around 9 brands namely Coca-Cola (Co-presenting partner), PhonePe, MRF, Maruti Suzuki, Polycab, Parle Products, Future Group, Dream 11, and Cover Fox. The upcoming months seem to be very crucial for brands and marketers across domains to leverage these events to get lip-smacking returns.

What's interesting and surprising is the involvement of women in the 'gentlemen's game'. Women who are commonly stereotyped in the 'saas-bahu' adoring category, have made drastic shift towards sports lately. Cricket reaches out to over 225 million women audience in just 100 days which the GECs managed over a year-long duration. Moreover, as per BARC 2018 data, the top 50 shows watched by women are all cricket matches.

From GECs to cricket; the major shift in women viewership
Suparna Mitra

With respect to the ever-buzzing VIVO IPL, the viewership pattern has been fairly dominated by women (47% share) in the VIVO IPL with a 3.5x leadership margin in the prime time spot. The last season - VIVO IPL 11 had the highest ever TVR among women. GECs which have forever ruled the TV screens, face tough competition in the VIVO IPL days, wherein among females its prime time reach is 77% upwards than any other Hindi GEC. The diversification in the viewership has further strengthened the tournaments backbone by making room for women-centric brands who, with confidence and strong numbers can now comfortably participate with guaranteed reach.

Sharing her views on how gender-oriented brands can associate with IPL, Ms. Suparna Mitra, Chief Marketing Officer, Watches and Accessories, Titan, said, 'Over the years, IPL has only grown from strength to strength and has reached a stage today wherein from a largely single TV household driven environment, the IPL has become the all encompassing Prime Time family viewership property. Today, there is a uniform increase in impressions (20-30%) across female audience regardless of age groups and affluence levels. This is also down to the influx of IPL on a whole host of mass Hindi and regional channels that have always had high female viewership.'

Commenting on how IPL gives opportunities to reach out to a huge number of women for marketers, Ms. Mitra further added, 'Of our three brands that were part of the IPL last year, we had two unisex product offerings - FT Reflex & FT Singles. Through the IPL campaign we were able to reach out to 30% affluent female audiences in the age groups of 20-30. Of the 30% female audiences that we reached, 63% were able to recall the brand. Another interesting insight into female audiences is that in our respective brand TGs when we see the ratings split by gender, last year's IPL delivered on average 23% more ratings in the female audiences we reached with our campaign.'

From GECs to cricket; the major shift in women viewership

Cricket is not just-another-popular sport in the country but has grown to become a sentiment for the nation. It is a sport which binds people together irrespective of their gender, ages or socio-economic background. Leading to the fact that the nation breathes the sport, brands are also leveraging it to make the audience land in their court. The colossal and diverse TG, makes this sports a marketers favourite and a safe platform to bet on with ponder-free results.

Events like VIVO IPL offer a wholesome package which is one of the prime pointers in making it a constant audience aggregator. The mammoth growth in viewership and revenue are sheer examples of hearts and pockets - fans and brands, it has touched. More importantly, the aspect of diverse reach makes it suitable for brands across the domains. Additionally, with the ICC World Cup 2019 dropping in soon after, the nation will be on its feet to support their favourite blue jersey. Sentiments will ride high and so will the brands on nationalism and advertising, with marketers expecting a bang for a buck and the nation wishing to bring home the trophy again.