The data released by television ratings agency Broadcast Audience Research Council (Barc) on Thursday was for the first seven matches of the current IPL season, which started on 9 April.
The T20 cricket league has been watched by more people than the recently concluded ICC Twenty20 world championship, which garnered cumulative television viewership of 730 million across state broadcaster Doordarshan and official broadcaster Star Sports according to data released by ICC.
According to Barc data, Sony Max recorded 946,870 impressions between 9 April and 15 April, beating popular Hindi general entertainment channel Star Plus, with 25% more viewership. Impressions, also known as television viewership in thousands (TVT), refer to the number of individuals in thousands of a target audience who viewed an event, averaged across minutes.
“The numbers are very encouraging. The reach of IPL has grown substantially to over 218 million households this season. IPL grows week-on-week. It is a very good start and has aligned with the trends of the past,” said Rohit Gupta, president of network sales at Sony Pictures Network, which runs a clutch of sports and entertainment channels. The official broadcasters for IPL matches are Sony Max and Sony Six, according to the IPL’s website.
“IPL has created a lot of hype but these initial ratings should not be considered as a benchmark for the overall IPL ratings. Somewhere in the times to come, the ratings will stabilize. Initially, the sponsors were a little cautious because of all the controversies associated but with these kind of ratings, they are happy,” said Tarun Nigam, executive vice-president at advertising agency DDB Mudra.
The Royal Challengers Bangalore and Sunrisers Hyderabad match held on 12 April in Bengaluru was the most-watched IPL match so far with a viewership of 24.1 million during prime-time. The match garnered total of 24,137 impressions.
IPL’s official digital streaming partner, Hotstar had announced in March that they expect to cross 100 million viewers this season, as compared to 41 million last year. Hotstar has also bagged sponsors like Flipkart, Raymont, Axe, Volini, Airtel and Amazon for this season.
Sony, which is the second largest sports broadcaster in the country, netted advertisement sales of Rs.800 crore during IPL 2015, according to a report on Indian sports sponsorship prepared by GroupM Media India Pvt. Ltd and Sportz Network Pvt. Ltd.