January 4 – The Indian Super League has unveiled record TV viewing figures for its third season with over 216 million watching the league throughout the season and the viewing audience for the Atletico de Kolkata and Kerala Blasters final drawing 41 million.
The TV audience for the final was a 41% increase on the 2015 final putting it amongst the most watched sports events nationwide. In Kerala, the viewing figure event beat the India-West Indies 2016 T20 World Cup Semi-finals viewing figure, as well as the Euro 2016 final and FIFA World Cup 2014 final. In West Bengal the viewing figures beat cricket’s IPL 9 finals.
A report on the ISL website highlighted the “sharp increase in rural India viewership registering a cumulative figure of 101 million, indicating the widespread appeal of the sport.”
City markets also performed well with Mumbai and Chennai recording a surge of more than 50% over last year along with a cumulative 20% spike in viewership in Tamil Nadu. The ISL says this points to a significant growth in interest in the game beyond its traditional areas.
Nita Ambani, Founder & Chairperson, Football Sports Development Limited, said
“The response from newer markets like Tamil Nadu and Mumbai, and further growth in established markets like West Bengal, Kerala etc shows the appetite for the sport. Stadium attendance, viewership numbers and growth on digital platform this season further encourages us to reset our benchmark for the season ahead.”
The increase in fan engagement was not limited to TV broadcasts but shared across all digital media. The Hotstar and Jio platforms “watchtime” was up 2.3 times compared to last year.
Similarly match attendances were up in all ISL club cities, with an average of over 84% seating capacity filled. 54,000 fans filled the stadium for the final in Kochi.
Sanjay Gupta, Managing Director, Star India, said: “This is a long term journey however we are very encouraged by the incredible fan affinity and increase in followership of the league and the sport in a short span of three years. We had dreamt of the day when Indian footballers would emerge as sporting heroes and this season of the Hero ISL has seen many new stars emerge.
“Further the quality of play and multi-lingual, high quality broadcast content has delivered record engagement levels amongst fans. The deeper penetration of the league into Urban and Rural India and the explosive growth of digital consumption augurs well for the future of football in India.”
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