Cricket is the jewel in the crown of rising sports viewership in the country, with 93 per cent of all sports viewers in 2018 tuning to cricket content, and women form a chunk of the audience, according to a BARC India report.
As many as 766 million viewers sampled sports content in 2018. It grew from 43 billion impressions in 2016 to 51 billion impressions, registering a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9 per cent, according to the report that comes amidst the ongoing ICC Cricket World Cup.
The impressions is defined as the number of individuals in thousands of a target audience who viewed an 'event', averaged across minutes.
Highlighting key insights, Romil Ramgarhia, Chief Operating Officer, Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India, told IANS: "Although other sports are making their presence felt on television, cricket continues to be the most watched sport in India. The broad fan base of cricket is evident from the fact that women constitute 48 per cent of viewers.
"Also, growth in cricket viewership is increasingly coming from regional language broadcasts. It's visible from non-English consumption rising from 77 per cent in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2018 to 81 per cent in IPL 2019, and now it's being telecast in 7 languages. The wide range of formats and tournaments, increasing viewer interest in women's cricket, international T20 leagues and domestic competitions are driving cricket viewership to new highs," Ramgarhia said.
While other sports like kabaddi, wrestling and football are gaining popularity among Indians, cricket draws in the maximum viewers.
With 342 million women formed 48 per cent of cricket viewers in 2018. Youth (15-30 years) continues to dominate cricket consumership with 35 per cent of live cricket viewership coming from this segment in 2019.
In the live cricket segment, the T20 World Cup in 2016 and the Champions Trophy in 2017 contributed 21 per cent and 14 per cent, respectively, to the total cricket viewership.
The absence of any major International Cricket Council (ICC) event resulted in 28 per cent drop in the international cricket viewing for 2018, while IPL in 2018 grew 19 per cent over the previous year.
IPL is a mainstay in the regular Indian home and dominates sports viewership in the weeks it's on air. The homegrown league, in its 11th edition, dominated the annual cricket viewership with 40 per cent share. Interestingly, 50 per cent IPL viewers are below 30 years of age.
As far as the impact on the advertising industry is concerned, e-commerce has emerged as the dominant sector with share of ads going up from 14 per cent in 2016 to 42 per cent in 2018, whereas smartphones and telecom ads have decreased from 24 per cent in 2016 to 11 per cent in 2018, the report said.