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Hero ISL sees uptick in viewership, fans keep the momentum high

The football league recorded a spike of 16 per cent in viewership on an all-India level during the

MUMBAI : Cricket is indeed big in India. Globally, however, it’s football and football all the way, and the willow game has a long way to go before it catches up with it.  In India, in times of Coronavirus and cricket, soccer has been holding its own, especially with the seventh India Super League (ISL 7) 2020 scoring more than pleasing viewership numbers.  

The league kicked off on 20 November in the process becoming the first live sporting gig after the Covid2019 lockdowns. And in week one itself it registered 3.42 billion viewing minutes as against 3.16 billion viewing minutes in week one during the 2019 edition, according to BARC data. That’s an increase of eight percent and it covered only eight matches.  What’s more, the league registered a spike of 16 per cent in viewership on an all-India level, with 18 per cent growth in Hindi speaking markets and 14 per cent in the south over the same period.

Despite fallacious beliefs that men were going back to work or working from home and they would refrain from turning on the television, male 15+AB urban viewers clocked a TVR of .41 as against 2019’s 0.39, a growth of five per cent for the ISL. The time spent viewing (TSV) by this demographic also registered similar growth.

Of course, strong holds such as West Bengal and Kerala are strengthening further. The Bengalis in Kolkata stayed glued to their sets for both home teams (ATK Mohun Bagan and SC East Bengal, which were included this year) and other team matches. But, what’s been exciting about ISL 7 is the burgeoning audiences in non-traditional football states such as Odisha, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka which are also showing promising growth.

The victories by Chennaiyin in 2015 and 2017-18 and by Bengaluru in 2018-19 have surely had a major role to play in this increase and the greater interest in football in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. God’s own country has also reported a seven per cent growth in viewership. In fact, the league’s ratings on Asianet bested the numbers the IPL 2020 recorded on the network.

For advertisers who betted on international cricket in the same period, ISL 7 threw up some surprises proving to be a stickier proposition. In fact, while the football league maintained or increased its ratings, international cricket actually had a significant drop with even TSV at 22 per cent vs the former’s 27 per cent for the male 15+AB urban demographic. Probably early morning or day part slots have not worked well for international cricket.

Overall, the buzz around ISL 7 has also seen some radical improvements over ISL 6. Social mentions between 20 November to 28 December 2020 ballooned 110 per cent from 162,000 to 339,000 with the google search index skyrocketing 100 per cent from 23 to 46.

Star Sports which is telecasting ISL7 on several more channels and several languages has clearly put its best foot forward to give advertisers a bigger bang for the buck. And it has gained their praise.

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