Over the years, sport has provided a sense of belonging and connection to a wider world – From the ancient Olympic games in Greece to Super Bowl, sports has become part of human experience. From millennials to older generation, every single person has a favorite sport and preferred team – and missing even one single game or match is a crime. This zeal with which viewers consume sports, makes it an entertainment force that has retained its draw, for the
matter of fact grown over the years, even in India. Also Read - ENG vs IND 2021: Joe Root Reacts England's 10-Wicket Loss in Pink-Ball Test, Says Week Like This Doesn’t Define us as Team
On sports being one of the most watched in the past year, Gautam Thakar, CEO, Star Sports shed light on the growth of sports consumption among television viewers “2019 was a defining year for sports in India. The growth was driven by our consistent effort in customization, regionalization and innovation around some of our marquee properties in Cricket, Also Read - IND vs ENG: Virat Kohli Slams Quality of Batting From India And England in Pink-Ball Test
Kabaddi and Football. In cricket, VIVO IPL 2019 was the biggest ever!” India has a large group of population that consumes sports daily, irrespective of which sport. Cricket trumps the rest, but Football and Kabaddi are not far behind. According to the recent BARC report on ‘What India Watched 2019’ – In India, LIVE Cricket pockets 58% of viewing minutes of sports broadcasts. Viewers are glued to the screen not only for a T20 or One-day match – surprisingly Test match also has a large viewership base. The report highlights the consumption of the first-ever Pink Ball match in India – Day 1 of the Test Match saw a staggering 43 Mn* viewers who clocked 2 billion viewing minutes – this was the highest viewership for a first day of any Test match played over 2018-19
IPL 2019 on Star Sports was the biggest with 424 Mn* viewers watched IPL. Also Read - Highlights Ind vs Eng 3rd Test, AS IT HAPPENED: Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin Knock England Out of WTC Final Race as India Take 2-1 Lead
According to the BARC ‘What India Watched 2019’ report – this number is 51% of the total TV viewing population. The report also suggested that an additional 9% watched the tournament in restaurants, pubs, and other locations ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 was yet another successful tournament for the broadcaster – the report highlights 509 Mn* viewers (home and out of home) watched the tournament. There were 2 Mn seconds of advertising featuring 192 brands during the tournament’s broadcast – it’s a record in its own!
Cricket has its share of hard-core fans, but 2019 has seen a chunk of the population who consumes other sports which includes Kabaddi, Wrestling and Football. The fan base for these sports are very high and are seen in pockets of the country – together they corner 85% of viewing minutes of non-cricket events In Kabaddi – Pro Kabaddi League Season 7 saw the overall viewership grow by a whopping 40% in the HSM markets. There was a steep growth of 26% in the urban region, with a significant increase in the number of women and children viewers. Talking about Football, it gets more than half its viewership from Kerala (21%), Assam/North East/Sikkim (20%), and West Bengal (11%). Hero Indian Super League (ISL) witnessed a gala opening as the opening match registered 96%* growth in TV ratings among M15+AB urban and an impressive 97% viewership growth on Hotstar over last season. The overall season garnered a jump of 53% in viewership among the Male 15+ AB audiences as well.
Some of the other sports that also garner interest among Indian sports lovers include Tennis, Racing, Mixed Martial Arts and Basketball. The share of duration of these sports is comparatively much lesser, which is also a reason for lower viewership in India. The report also suggests that there is a strong affinity for cricket in the Bihar and Jharkhand region with 88% sports channels viewership coming from cricket. However, in Assam, cricket consumption is less, and the viewership comes mainly form soccer (20%), Wrestling (15%) and Mixed Martial Arts (4%). However, Kabaddi connects well down south, with major chunk of viewership coming in from AP & Telangana (15%) followed by Karnataka (11%), and the Hindi speaking belt of MP and Chhattisgarh (11%)