BENGALURU: Live telecast of the Indian Premier League (IPL) must seem an abomination for competitors’ networks. Year in and year out, the period during which the cricketing bonanza is played, all genres and competing sports networks have seen viewership numbers dip as Indians tuned into the channels of the network that aired the event live – the network being Star India in this edition of IPL or IPL 2020 or IPL13 as it is known. The Covid2019 pandemic delayed IPL by around five to six months. In a normal year, IPL commences around the end of March or at the beginning of April every year and runs for about six weeks or so. The event this year clashes with flagship programmes such as the twelfth season of Hindi Kaun Banega Crorepati hosted by Bollywood doyen Amitabh Bachchan and with the initial weeks of the Salman Khan hosted fourteenth edition of the Hindi Bigg Boss. This paper comes with a caveat – the conclusions in it are based on BARC weekly data of the top 2, 3, 4, 5 or 10 channels/programmes of various genres in different languages/platfroms in the public domain.
Week 38 of 2020 (Saturday,19 September 2020 to Friday, 25 September 2020, week or period under review) saw television viewership climb 2.4 percent to 17.0 billion weekly impressions from 16.5 billion weekly impressions reported for the previous week according to Broadcast Audience Research Council of India (BARC) data published in the public domain. Viewership in week 38 of 2020 was 15.1 percent higher than the pre-Covid2019 average of 14.77 billion weekly impressions. Ratings watchdogs BARC and Nielsen have standardized the average data for weeks 02 and 04 2020 as the pre-Covid2019 average. As is obvious from the figure below, television viewership had started declining from week 34 of 2020. IPL 13 week saw viewership growth.
BARC weekly list of the Top 10 Channels on All Platforms Across genres saw Star Sports 1 Hindi catupult into it, and that too at rank 1. Though the combined ratings of the Top 10 Channels in this list grew 5.8 percent to 8,322.475 billion weekly impressions in week 38 of 2020 from 7,863.577 billion weekly impressions in the previous week, seven of the channels in the list saw a decline in viewership. Two channels exited the list in week 38 of 2020. Star Sports 1 Hindi entered the list as mentioned above at rank 1 with 1,247.407 billion weekly impressions. It must be noted that Star India is airing IPL 13 on Star Sports 1, Star Sports 1 HD, Star Sports 2, Star Sports 2 HD, Star Sports 1 Hindi and Star Sports 1 Hindi HD TV channels as well as live streaming on the Disney+ Hotstar digital platform.
Analysis of BARC data in the public domain of the top 2, 3, 4, 5 or 10 channels of various genres in different languages/platfroms for week 38 of 2020 reveals that the top channale of all major genres such as GECs’, news, movies and kids saw ratings dip. According to BARC-Nielsen reports these four genres garnered around 90 percent of television viewership. BARC data shows that combined impressions data for the Top 5 Sports channels grew 8.6 times to 1,734.956 billion weekly impressions in week 38 of 2020 from 201.549 billion weekly impressions in the previous week. It is quite obvious that the sports genre has helped television viewership grow, while at the same time has eaten into viewership of other genres/sub-genres across platforms – be they pay or free or combined free and pay.
Top 10 Channels on All Platforms, Pay Platform and Free Platform Across Genres
The Star India Network pulled viewership eyeballs with five channels in BARC’s weekly list of Top 10 Channels on All Plaform Across Genres in week 38 of 2020. There were two channels from Sony Pictures Network (SPN) and one channel each from Enterr10 Television, Sun Tv Network and Zee Entertainment Enterrpises Limited (Zeel) besides those of Star India in the top 10 weekly list for the week under review.Two channels, Viacom18’s Hindi GEC Colors Rishtey and Zeel’s flagship Hindi GEC Zee TV exited the list and were replaced by Star Sports 1 Hindi and Star India’s flagship Tamil GEC Star Vijay. There were six Hindi GEC channels, two Tamil channels and one channel each from the sports and the Telugu genres in BARC’s weekly list of Top 10 Channels on All Platforms Across Genres.
BARC’s weekly list of Top 10 Pay Channels Across Genres also was dominated by Star India channels – there were four of them. Besides, there were 3 channels from Zeel and one channel each from SPN, Sun Tv Network and Viacom18. While the combined weekly impressions of the Top 10 Pay Channels Across Genres increased 10 percent to 7,285.986 billion weekly impressions in week 38 of 2020 from 6,624.357 billion weekly impressions in week 37 of 2020, five of the channels saw week-on-week (w-o-w) decline in weekly impressions. One channel – Star India’s flagship Bangla channel Star Jalsha exited the list in week 38 of 2020 and was replaced by Star Sports 1 Hindi. There were four Hindi GECs’, three Tamil channels, two Telugu channels and one Sports channel in BARC’s weekly list of Top 10 Pay channels Across Genres.
BARC’s weekly list of Top 10 Free Channels Across Genres in week 38 of 2020 had the same line up of channels in the same order as in the previous week. However, the combined weekly impressions of the 10 channels in week 38 of 2020 declined 1.5 per cent to 3,535.728 billion weekly impressions from 3,588.256 billion weekly impressions in week 37. Six of the channels in the list saw viewership decline, while four saw viewership increase. Six of the channels were Hindi GECs’ while four were Hindi Movies channels. There were three channels from Zeel, two channels from Viacom18, and one channel each from B4U Network, Enterr10 Television, Goldmine Telefilms, Star India and SPN in BARC’s weekly list of Top 10 Free Channels Across Genres in week 38 of 2020.
Please refer to the chart below: