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Indian Premier League, also known as IPL, has been one of the most popular cricket leagues in the world for a long time. Started in 2008 with eight city-based teams, IPL currently has 10 teams and is held every year in India usually during the months of April and May. In the 14 seasons of IPL, there has been a tremendous rise in IPL and growth in IPL viewership from 2008 to 2022. Let’s have look at the data and figures to showcase this hypothesis.
Rise of IPL
The popularity of IPL has been increasing rapidly over the years since it has completely changed the cricket scenario in a nation like India where cricket is considered as a religion. The IPL was introduced just when T20 cricket came into the picture and started gaining popularity quickly as the majority of the people favored and gave preference to a fast-paced game of cricket for a shorter duration than the regular one-day or test formats. IPL has basically played a huge role during this transition of T20 cricket in India.
Also, the concept of franchise-based leagues was introduced in India with the help of IPL and hence IPL can be considered as one of those leagues that revolutionized the game of cricket in India. Even though franchise-based leagues have begun for some of the other popular sports like football (ISL) and kabaddi (PKL) in India during the last decade, these leagues are nowhere near IPL as of today and IPL is still dominating the sporting scene in India. There are quite a few factors that have resulted in the IPL viewership skyrocketing consistently over the years.
What are the reasons for growth in IPL Viewership?
One of the major reasons for consistent growth in IPL viewership is the period when the tournament takes place every year. The tournament is usually held in the months of April and May when school, as well as college-going children, have summer vacations in India. Cricket is a game that is obviously very popular among the youth and since the league takes place during the vacation period, the viewership among school and college children is always on a high every year. Moreover, the viewership among females has been increasing gradually over the years.
Also, the tournament lasts for only about two months which basically ensures that the audience is following the league continuously as longer tournaments might result in the audience getting bored after a point of time. Another major reason for high viewership is the timing of the matches. The matches usually start around 7:30-8 in the night and get over before 12. This period of 7:30-11:30 is crucial as this is the time when most of the people are done with their daily work and are at their homes watching television for entertainment.
A major strategy that was used in the initial years for increasing the viewership of IPL was to broadcast matches on SONY MAX, a channel that was majorly used for broadcasting Hindi movies. Since the IPL was being broadcasted on non-sports channels as well, the IPL viewership kept on increasing.
The above figure shows how the IPL viewership among the age groups below 15, 15-21 years, and 22-30 years have increased significantly between 2016-2018.
Some of the other factors why the IPL viewership has been increasing in recent years include the availability of HD (High Definition) channels for sports, broadcasting of IPL matches in various regional languages, and IPL streaming on OTT platforms such as Hotstar. HD channels provide a better viewing experience and hence the introduction of sports HD channels is one of the major reasons for the increase in viewership. Streaming services such as Hotstar have definitely played a crucial role as the audience has the option of watching IPL matches even if they don’t have access to television.
Advertising is another major factor that has led to the significant growth in IPL viewership. Some of the top advertised categories during IPL matches include smartphones, online shopping, cars and car tyres, soft drinks, beverages, and many more. Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram have also contributed towards the increase in IPL viewership nowadays.
IPL has become so popular that the TV viewership for the 2021 season had crossed 400 million which is almost half of the total number of TV viewers in India (around 836 million). This popularity of IPL keeps on rising as it is not only being followed in India but also in various other countries such as Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, UAE, etc.