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Women make up nearly half of FIFA World Cup 2018 viewers in India

Regional language feeds in Hindi, Malayalam, Bengali, Tamil and Telugu contributed to 46% of the overall viewership on TV.

football Updated: Jun 29, 2018 07:25 IST
Vidhi Choudhary
Vidhi Choudhary
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
FIFA,FIFA World Cup 2018,West Bengal
Neon light decorations in the shape of soccer players stand in front of the Mordovia Arena in Saransk, Russia June 27, 2018. According to Sony Pictures Networks India, women accounted for 46% of viewers and rural audiences, 41%.(Reuters)

Close to 100 million Indians have tuned in to watch the first 26 matches of the FIFA World Cup, with almost 45% of the viewers being from states where football has traditionally been popular, West Bengal, Kerala, the North-Eastern states, and Maharashtra, according to numbers from Sony Pictures Network, the official broadcaster of the matches in India and audience measurer Broadcast Audience Research Council or Barc.

Interestingly, almost half the viewers were women.

According to Sony, 99.3 million people watched the matches across its five channels, and 18 million on its streaming service SonyLIV. According to Barc, which provides viewership data in impressions and not people, the first 26 matches, played between June 14 and June 22 garnered 90.7 million impressions.

The numbers may pale in comparison to cricket — in April, the 11th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) in its first week witnessed a total viewership of 213.9 million impressions for the eight matches played between April 7 and 13 — it still reflects the growing popularity of football in India and the enduring appeal of the football World Cup, according to a sports management expert.

“The truth is FIFA World Cup will be watched every four years. It has its own draw. The nature of the event is such that it gets its own traction. It is more than just chasing [football] clubs through the EPL or La Liga. These numbers show without a doubt that football viewership in India is on the rise,” said Harish Krishnamachar, co-founder, Sportoid, a sports consultancy firm.

Regional language feeds in Hindi, Malayalam, Bengali, Tamil and Telugu contributed to 46% of the overall viewership on TV.

“Our strategy of engaging viewers and catering to their convenience with local language feeds has helped us expand the market and reach out to a wider fan base,” said Rajesh Kaul, president, (distribution and sports business), Sony Pictures Networks India.

According to the company, women accounted for 46% of viewers and rural audiences, 41%.

The Germany vs Mexico match telecast on 17 June ranked as the most watched match in the period of measurement, according to Barc with 7 million impressions. Germany lost the match to Mexico and subsequently didn’t make it to the knockout stage of the World Cup after losing to South Korea on Wednesday.

First Published: Jun 29, 2018 07:25 IST