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Media Monday: Rise of sports viewership other than Cricket in India

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During first two days of FIFA World cup 2010, viewership data read a whopping 20 Million viewers according to TAM in India, a 35% rise from World cup of 2006. This may be nearly half of IPL-3’s first 3 days viewership of 37.1 million viewers but this is pretty encouraging and something that we desperately need in India.

As more and more viewers getting influenced by English Premier League/UEFA etc the trend may soon change. I’m not saying that Soccer alone can beat Cricket in terms of viewership but a combined effort by all niche games may very well can.

Formula One Force India

Many other sports like Formula1, Golf and Tennis are gaining quite a good popularity among niche viewers in India. Infact, my guess is that amongst urban population, viewership for other sports might be much higher as compared to cricket.

If you go by Formula One numbers alone, it has a viewership of 68 million which is actually double the number we had in 2007. So overall (if we don’t include FIFA world cup) Formula one is currently ahead of Football, Tennis and Hockey.

Now, if this trend (of popularity) goes on for multi-sport events like Commonwealth games too, it would be a real booster for India. We have some of our stars playing during the Games- Saina Nehwal, Olympic Gold winner Abhinav Bindra, Boxer Vijendra Kumar etc. If somehow DD is able to capture the attention of audience during the Games, it would be really great for Indian sports’ future.

This is also the time when Doordarshan is going digital, and if they are able to up the quality of production, viewership should also increase. However, Doordarshan has never shown the capability of being innovative & creative in their marketing & coverage – so atleast now, it looks a long shot.

Today’s audience is getting impatient, from Tests cricket to one day to 20-20, the change in the format of Cricket shows that it’s not probably ‘the game of future’. There are very few new countries which are showing a serious interest in Cricket and with the advent of Sports Clubs in India, people are getting more inclined towards niche, short interval games with high energy and intensity- Squash, Tennis etc.

Let’s hope Commonwealth games can make Indians to follow other sports like Athletics, Gymnastics etc, where we seriously need to cover a lot of ground. What do you think, will we be able to leave aside ‘Cricket’ legacy and move forward with games of future?

  1. balaji yadhav says

    Oh MY GOD when will Indians ever learn I have been following this blog for some time now (with little breaks in between) claiming to be a business blog but with no dialogue on some real economic issues and people having no sense of economics are writing on this blog. Increasing Indian viewership for a sporting event like FIFA,NBA,EPL is the worst thing that could ever happen to Indian sports and economy.
    First of all when India became a major source of Cricket Ad revenue after 96 world cup From 96 till 2008 a major chunk of Cricket revenues around 60% went to countries other than India (why????) because India was a national team playing other international countries who conveniently pocket all this TV Revenue and not a single rupee reached India except for the Home series.Then due to the vision of Business magnate Lalit Modi we created a successful league called the IPL which has made sure that all the TV Revenue and the jobs which goes along with it like the travel,services sector stays in India.FInally,all the money and time we spend on cricket resulted in jobs for Indians rather than to some foreign countries who racially abuses our citizens.
    We as Indians have a responsibility to support all our domestic leagues and if someone puts in money to start a league like IPL in hockey,soccer etc we support them by buying tickets and increasing TRPs not by watching the foreign events like FIFA,EPL.Thats the only way to support our sport and the economy at the same time.Why are you guys so dumb.
    Hear This out
    USA came 1st in last concluded Olympics Basketball not a soul cared for it in America the TRPs were negligible despite the fact that USA finished 4th in the last concluded world championship.When the LA Lakers defeated boston Celtics everyone in America watches it Why!!!! they know how to be a true patriot and support their sport not some idiots like you guys who seem intent on increasing TRPs for events like FIFA and increasing the TV revenue for these foreign leagues from an emerging country like India.Dont sell out our country at this time If you want to support other sports donate to your local sports club not by watching TV.
    Does all of this makes sense or should i explain more….

  2. Robert Dukes- US India Business Summit says

    Great article,

    If the viewership numbers continue to increase and more sporting apparel products are sold in India, it will be interesting to see if there could be exhibition matches held in major cities in India to gain more exposure.

    I am all for having a Formula One race in Mumbai or a tennis match in Bangalore.

    1. rabi gupta says

      Thanks Robert for your valuable input :)

  3. Liju Philip says

    The demise of cricket in the public consciousness started when BCCI started behaving like an extra constitutional authority.
    Other than a few hyped tournaments like IPL, test and one dayers are almost forgotten. Heck, i dont even remember who won the Asia cup last month ;)

    1. Arun Prabhudesai says

      Liju, Very true and Rabi…I agree with your point completely.

      Not long ago..just probably 3-4 years back, when it came to sports it was only cricket..cricket and cricket. But now suddenly, we are talking about Saina Nehwal, we are talking about Force India, we are talking incessantly about Football. This underlying change itself shows that people are fed-up of cricket.

      Honestly, I feel cricket is on the downward spiral and we may not see it 10 – 15 years down the line.. Good for other disciplines for sure !!! I am really glad abt it..

  4. pam says

    “As more and more viewers getting influenced by English Premier League/UEFA” what’s the use of people following EPL or UEFA. The number would have been encouraging if more people followed Indian football.

    1. rabi gupta says

      Hey Pam, tht’s why I emphasized the effect of commonwealth games in later part of post :)

  5. Chandra says

    It seems you are very young. Football, Hockey and Tennis have always been popular in India.

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