Anirban Roy Choudhury

BCCI secretary caught up in IPL viewership claim

Jay Shah attributed Disney+ Hotstar's viewership numbers to BARC India while the auditor only measures TV households.

Jay Shah, secretary, Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), announced on Twitter that the opening match of the Indian Premier League (IPL) broke all former viewership records. The much-anticipated, multi-million dollar IPL kick-started in the UAE on September 19, with the recently retired Mahendra Singh Dhoni's Chennai Super Kings taking on Mumbai Indians.

On Tuesday (yesterday, September 22), Shah posted this on the microblogging site, "Opening match of #Dream11IPL sets a new record! As per BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council), an unprecedented 20 crore people tuned in to watch the match. Highest ever opening day viewership for any sporting league in any country - no league has ever opened as big as this."

It is worth mentioning that BARC India releases its weekly data every Thursday. However, it has a tool called PreView, which allows subscribers to access data for an event three days after it has taken place. BARC India sources have confirmed that the BCCI is not a PreView subscriber, unlike Star India (IPL 2020 broadcaster).

Shah's claim of "unprecedented 20 crore people" was contested by netizens, and 20 minutes later, he added another tweet to substantiate his claim. The tweet read, "Total viewership Star Sports and Disney Plus."

BCCI secretary caught up in IPL viewership claim

Shah did not mention the source of this data. BARC India does not measure viewership of content on video-on-demand (VOD) platform. According to sources in the television audience measurement body, the data that Shah has shared has not been released by the auditor.

The television industry and cricket fans alike have been eagerly waiting for the IPL to kick off. The think tanks have placed their bets on this marquee tournament to bring the advertising spends on TV back on track. Ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced what is now known as the world's 'strictest lockdowns', the ad spends have dipped to a new low. It is crawling back towards normalcy, and the IPL, experts feel, will boost it further.

IPL is an important event. As Rajiv Dubey, head of media at FMCG giant Dabur India Ltd, said during an afaqs! event recently, "Events like the IPL make you feel everything is all right, even though we are in the middle of a global crisis."

Meanwhile, on Shah's claim, an industry expert said, "It's just haste and there is no such necessity to read too much into it." "The TV plus digital number (cumulative reach) of 20 crore is realistic, and going forward, it could grow significantly as the tournament progresses and we get narrow finishes," the expert added.

Star Sports, the official television broadcaster of the IPL in India, has roped in 18 sponsors for the live telecast. These include five co-presenting sponsors - Dream 11, PhonePe, Amazon, Vodafone Idea and Byju’s. Thirteen associate sponsors include Mondelez, ITC Foods, Polycab, Diageo, P&G, Coca-Cola, Hero Motocorp, KP Group, Facebook, Daily Hunt, Samsung, Cred and AMFI. Also, there are 100-plus brands that have bought slots during the matches.

Star Sports sources say that the channel sold its entire inventory even before the first ball was bowled. If the sources are to be believed, then the sportscaster has hiked the rates by 20 per cent compared to last year. It has sold 10-second slots for a price of around Rs 12.5 lakh.

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