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.
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?