TV impressions for IPL 2018 grew 41% over 2016 season: BARC data

Indian Premier League (IPL) has become one of the biggest sporting properties in India today. IPL as a TV property has continued to grow in terms of viewership and engagement with the audience. IPL has been driving up sports viewership, and simultaneously impacting viewership of other genres like GECs. IPL 2018 witnessed huge uptake on regional language channels as well. Viewership share of regional-language telecast (23 per cent) is at par with that of English language telecast (22 per cent), while Hindi dominates with 55 per cent. 

These are part of the findings of three years of BARC India data on the Indian Premier League. 

TV Impressions for IPL 2018 witnessed a growth of 41 per cent over the 2016 season, and grew at 16 per cent in the 2018 edition over previous season. Beyond Impressions, Average Time Spent watching IPL matches too exhibits an upward trend. From an average of 28 minutes in 2016, it increased to 34 minutes in 2018. 

IPL viewership continues to enjoy growth year on year, pointing to the fact that it remains a dynamic and much sought-after property on TV. 

The male-female contribution to IPL has remained largely consistent, with a marginal increase in viewership share of female viewers in the 2018 edition. It is also interesting to note that viewership share of NCCS CDE has dropped over the last 3 years, while viewership share of NCCS B has shown a growth. 

Over the last 3 years, viewership of each age group has registered significant growth: Kids (<15 years) have registered 52 per cent growth, that of 15-21 years has grown 50 per cent, while 22-30 years have shown 20 per cent growth. Within age groups, however, a changing pattern of relative contribution to the growing IPL viewership has been observed. 

Impact of IPL on TV viewership 

To understand the impact of IPL on TV viewership at large, BARD India mapped the impact the property has on viewership of Sports genre. IPL continues to enjoy a huge share of overall sports viewership in India. While the 2016 edition of contributed to 22 per cent of total sports viewership, that figure has almost doubled to 43 per cent in 2018. 

Another way of examining impact of IPL is to look at how sports viewership relates to total TV viewership during IPL, and otherwise. As per BARC data, share of sports viewership jumped 2 percentage points in 2016 when IPL was on, and that scale up has only risen further over the years. 

IPL telecast has also shown significant impact on viewing habits for other genres. While mapping viewership of various genres during IPL and non-IPL weeks, it was found that the share of the GEC genre declined marginally in all 3 years under review (2016-18), as viewers tuned in to IPL matches during prime-time when General Entertainment content otherwise rules the roost. 

Across 2016 and 2017, growth in viewership of Movies genre is attributable to telecast of matches on SET Max. However, in 2018, with the IPL telecast moving primarily to sports channels, a clear drop in viewership of Movies genre is seen, and a marked increase in that of Sports genre. 

IPL and growth of HD viewership 

IPL telecast over the last three years has also exhibited a growing contribution of HD viewership, with HD emerging as the preferred mode of viewing for cricket. This is reflected in BARC’s analysis of IPL viewership data as well. 

Certainly, this is also driven by availability of IPL on more HD channels, higher uptake of HD subscriptions, as well as rising penetration of HD TV sets. One corollary indicator is rise in viewership share of NCCS A audience in 2018: possibly, growth of HD viewership is being driven by affluent audiences seeking a better viewing experience. 

Team loyalty and viewership 

Analysis of viewership contribution of specific cities/ markets for home vs away teams throws up some interesting insights into impact of a team’s performance and of marquee players, as well as ‘connect’ between teams and their home cities/ states. 

At an all India level, games featuring Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Mumbai Indians (MI) generated the highest viewership, while Rajasthan Royals (RR) garners the lowest. 

Chennai Super Kings emerge as a clear leader if one looks at growth in viewership of “home-city/state” for matches featuring CSK versus those featuring other teams – clearly highlighting the strong connect between Dhoni’s team and Chennai/TN-Pondicherry: viewership from the Chennai market grew 119 per cent when CSK played. One strong factor for this is also the return of the team to IPL after a two-year hiatus. 

CSK is one of the out-performing teams in IPL and has been consistently led by one of the most popular Indian cricket stars – MS Dhoni. Both factors add to the popularity of CSK games. 

The story is quite the reverse for teams like Rajasthan Royals and Delhi Daredevils – from the perspective of TV viewership of home cities/states. These two teams appear to be struggling to attract viewership of their natural fan base. This can partly be due to relatively weaker performance of the teams and their star players. 

The language factor 

IPL 2018 saw an uptake in viewership from Regional channels. Analysis of viewership share across multiple languages shows that while Hindi continues to dominate, there is a substantial viewership of telecast in Regional languages as well. 

IPL 2018 generated almost equal viewership for English as well as Regional language (that is, other than Hindi). 

As TV penetrates further into semi-urban and rural areas, and TV ownership grows at a faster pace in these town-classes, uptake of IPL (and possibly other sports properties) in regional languages is likely to show a continued upward trend. 

This opportunity will not be missed by brands looking to target emerging markets as well as those focusing on local markets. Broadcasts in more regional languages will further aid this process. 

Out of home viewership 

As per BARC India’s OOH measurement service, which tracks viewing across 900+ establishments in Mumbai, Delhi, and Bangalore, sports emerged as the most preferred genre (accounting for 70 per cent of the total OOH viewership) during IPL 2018. Of the 44 million walk-ins during April-May, a record 33 million watched IPL in the OOH space. 

IPL 2018 garnered 23.7 million Impressions from OOH viewing of live matches across 3 cities (TG: 15+, Delhi/ Mumbai/ Bangalore), leading to an incremental viewership of 8 per cent over viewership from TV currency panel. 

IPL and advertising 

As popularity of IPL as a TV property remains buoyant, so does the number of brands that seek higher visibility through this platform. Over the last 3 years, the total number of advertised brands has grown from 138 to 247 (a growth of 79 per cent). The 247 brands that advertised on IPL 2018 were accounted for by 123 advertisers (count of which has grown 50 per cent since 2016). While part of this growth may be on account of increase in number of broadcasting channels, there is little doubt that IPL remains a favourite destination for brands. 

Looking at the spread of advertisers across channels that broadcast IPL, one can see that a good 42 per cent opted to be present across 10+ channels, while about 28 per cent chose to advertise on a mix of 6-9 channels. The remaining advertisers were present on 5 or less channels. 

Smartphones, Cellular Phone Services and Internet/ Online Shopping categories remain the top 3 advertised categories during IPL telecast. The primary driving factor is that IPL sponsor brands fall under these categories. 

As per BARC data, in 2018, a higher number of F&B categories was seen in the top 10 advertised categories, and lesser durables. In 2016 and 2017, categories related to automobiles/ tyres, air conditioners and DTH service providers featured in the top 10 (also by share of impressions). But in 2018, these categories have moved down in the ranks marginally. In their place, fast-moving F&B categories like biscuits, pan masala, and aerated soft drinks have not only found their way into top 10, but also improved their relative ranking.


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