93% of all sports viewers watched cricket content in 2018: BARC

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MUMBAI: Cricket continues to the force that drives sports viewership in India. According to a BARC India report, 93% of all sports viewers in 2018 watched cricket content. Overall, sports content was sampled by 766 million viewers in 2018.

The report titled ‘Cricket in India: It’s not just a game’ highlighted that sports viewership has grown from 43 billion impressions in 2016 to 51 billion impressions in 2018, growing at a CAGR of 9%. Cricket 12.3 billion impressions in 2018 despite the absence of international tournaments in the year.

It further stated that Cricket is the jewel in the sports viewership crown with upwards of 65% of viewership contribution year-on-year even though other sports like Kabaddi, Wrestling, Football are gaining popularity.

Youth continues to be the highest consumer of Live cricket with 35% viewership of Live cricket contributed by 15-30-year-olds in 2019. Further, the share of NCCS AB cricket viewers is on the rise and stands at 56% for the first 21 weeks of 2019. Women form 48% of cricket viewers for 2018 with 342 million viewers. These are some of the interesting trends shared by the report.

The IPL scores year over year, growing both in terms of viewers as well as average watch time per viewer – 28 minutes to 34 minutes from 2016 to 2018. Furthermore, Women’s cricket scores on ROI
as compared to International T20 leagues and Domestic cricket. The Women’s World Cup Final between India & England had a viewership of 39 million impressions.

Cricket viewership on the rise

According to the report, the footprint of Cricket is not just restricted to sports channels and goes well beyond them. Overall, there is 25% growth of cricket viewership in 2018 over 2016. For the same period, cricket viewership on sports channels grew by 79%. The drop in non- sports channels viewership for cricket content in 2018 can be attributed to the majority of IPL-12 telecast moving to channels in the Sports genre.

“The last 3 years have seen a steady increase in cricket content on sports channels. Apart from international cricket matches to the national favourite IPL, viewers today have a wide array of choice. From domestic competitions like the Ranji Trophy, the Duleep Trophy, the Vijaya Hazare Trophy etc to International T20 Leagues like Big Bash League, Mzansi Super League, Pakistan Super League, etc to popular celebrity leagues we can see it all on the small screen,” the report stated.

It also revealed that cricket content on television is approaching the 1 million hour mark annually, with 89000 hours being clocked in 2018. Non–sports channels carried 4700 hours of cricket content in 2016 and upwards of 5400 hours in 2018. Some news channels have the same cricket programme titles running over the last 3 years.

The report also noted that the number of sports channels have witnessed a steady rise on the back of both HD channels and regional channel launches. Popular matches are also simulcasted on Non-sports channels and this number has gone north as well. Non-live cricket content also makes up for respectable airtime.

Live cricket overview

According to the report, the T20 World Cup in 2016 and Champions Trophy in 2017 contributed 21% and 14% to the total cricket viewership of the year respectively. The absence of any major ICC event results in 28% drop in the international cricket viewing for 2018. IPL in 2018 grew by 19% over the previous year.

Live cricket content contributed to a minority share to (22% in 2016, 15% in 2017 and 16% in 2018) cricket content telecast. But the report informed that in absolute terms, live cricket has grown by 30% from 10882 hours in 2016 to 14180 hours in 2018.

Analysis on T20 said that the format has gained popularity over the years and multiple leagues have mushroomed both internationally and locally. This format dominates content as well as viewership on television.

The report also stated that the biggest international extravaganza of a particular year dominates cricket viewership. For example, T20 World Cup in 2016 and Champions Trophy in 2017. However, with the sheer number of games being played between first-class cricket playing nations across the long format of the game – Test cricket is high on telecast time when it comes to international matches.

India cricket story

In terms of airtime, India matches account for >50% of all international matches telecast on television. However, the viewership lens shows the clear preference of Indian viewers for India matches accounting for 78%, 92% and 91% in 2016, 2017 and 2018 respectively.

The IPL phenomenon

On IPL, the report informed that IPL is a mainstay in the regular Indian home and dominates sports viewership in the weeks its on air. The homegrown league in its 11th edition dominated the annual cricket viewership at 40% viewership share.

It also stated that the return of CSK in 2018 saw viewership shifts in South markets like TN, AP/Telangana & Karnataka. The top 5 markets have grown from 55% audience share in 2016 to 58% in 2018.

Rising in the quantum of advertising

There has been a 14% growth in the number of ads on Live telecast of International matches in 2018 vis-à-vis 2017. Ads in India Matches have witnessed 18% growth & 17% growth in 2017 and 2018 respectively. E-commerce has emerged as the dominant sector with share of ads going up from 14% in 2016 to 42% in 2018. Smartphones & telecom ads have decreased from 24% in 2016 to 11% in 2018.

Smartphones & telecom dominate with 24% of ads in 2018. Share of e-commerce ads increased from 7% in 2016 to 17% in 2018. 2017 however, saw a peak with 29% of ads from e-commerce. Auto sector ads move southwards: from 14% in 2016 to 8% in 2018. 246 brands from 95 categories were advertised in this period. 158 brands were advertised on live as well as match highlights.

Ad volumes grew over 100% in IPL-12 vis-à-vis IPL-11. 246 brands from 95 categories were advertised in this period. 158 brands were advertised on live as well as match highlights.

Top 10 categories contributed to 52% of the ads telecast. Further, services led by e-commerce brands have made a comeback as the top sector this season with 24% ads. Smartphones ads by 5 advertisers clocked 14.2% of all ads and emerge as the top category this IPL season followed by Auto-Cars with 5.7% of ads.

The report also stated that domestic cricket is growing on the back of T20.


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