It was a blockbuster opening. TV viewership figures for the first two days of the IPL show are in, and the scoreboard is already looking impressive. Executives of Set Max (the channel which is telecasting the matches), are overjoyed: their phones haven’t stopped ringing ever since market research agency TAM released its six-city viewership data early Monday morning.
Of the three matches, the opening game of the tournament — Kolkata versus Bangalore, held on Friday — got the highest ratings (8.21). Says Sneha Rajani, executive vice-president and business head, Set Max, “That’s even better than what any India match in a World Cup normally gets.” This was also the match that proved to be the most popular with elite viewers in Mumbai and Delhi, according to TAM figures. And not surprisingly, the highest viewership of the match came from Bangalore, the city where it was played. Put it down to the feverish hype and sky-high anticipation levels.
Though viewership dipped in the second match (Chennai versus Punjab, rating of 4.97), it picked up again in the third match (Rajasthan versus Delhi, rating of 5.58). To get an understanding of what these figures really mean, remember that ratings of the top serials hover in the vicinity of 5 or 4.
Will these figures stay steady over the next few weeks or will we see a drop? “Let’s not get carried away,” says Sneha Rajani. “There might be a dip on weekdays. But they’ll bounce back on weekends. And as the competition between the teams gets tougher, I think the figures will go up again.” That’s what the industry calls the typical ‘U’ shape — up, down and up again.
Most industry watchers feel that the combination of cricket and Bollywood in a fast and furious format like T20 is a lethal combination. It’s likely that the IPL matches will eat into the viewership of the entertainment channels as well. According to Sameer Nair, CEO, NDTV Imagine, if IPL does well on weekdays, then the entertainment channels will be affected. “Globally, though, sports events get big viewership only on weekends,” he points out.
But if this blockbuster opening lives up to its promise in the days to come, then the IPL is set for a very long innings.