ISL 2016: ISL is being increasingly watched in rural India
Does rural India care more about football than urban areas?
The third edition of Hero ISL kicked off earlier this month in Guwahati on 1st October 2016 and had a whopping total of 369,000 impressions in India in its very first week. The Broadcast Audience Research Council, India, (BARC) quantifies viewership by measuring the number of impressions, that is, the number of times the tournament was viewed while it was being telecast live.
More viewers from rural areas
According to BARC, the total number of impressions in rural areas was 193,000 as opposed to 176,000 from urban India. It is instantly apparent that rural folks are paying more attention to the telecast of ISL than people in urban areas.
While the viewership in rural India was higher in the first week, there is no way to compare the data from last year. BARC started giving out viewership numbers for rural territories only from the second week of the tournament in 2015.
BARC gets its numbers from Star India who owns all broadcast rights for the league for television and digital media. They also own a 33 percent stake in the tournament along with IMG and Reliance Industries Limited. This year the league is being telecast in various languages, mainly English, Bengali, Hindi, etc. across almost 10 channels – Star Sports 1,2,3 (SD+HD), Asianet Movies, Jalsha Movies, STAR Gold and STAR Gold HD.
ISL paled in comparison to the Kabaddi World Cup and India-New Zealand series
While the viewership numbers for ISL seems impressive it wasn’t as good as the numbers for the Kabaddi World Cup and the Paytm Series between India and New Zealand that was being telecast during the same week by Star India.
The first match of the Kabaddi World Cup between India and South Korea was the highest viewed sporting event of the week with 3,592 impressions on Star Sports 3 (Hindi). While the third day of the second Test match between India and New Zealand was the second highest viewed with 2,233 impressions.
In spite of lagging behind kabaddi and cricket, Jigar Rambhia, national director of sports and entertainment, Maxus India said:
“ISL Season 3 has garnered a lot of interest from football fans in India, compared to previous seasons. The reason could be the enormous buzz created before the tournament, portraying football as the most loved sport in the world, with the tagline ‘Lets Football.’”
And, he’s not wrong. More and more people are watching Indian football on television, not just in urban India but in rural areas too. With new markets opening up, advertisers and investors also feel encouraged to explore these new opportunities.
Rambhia said, “Also, as ISL is a big but emerging property, it gives an opportunity for comparatively smaller brands to advertise and reach out, as we have been seeing in terms of sponsorship buys like TYKA Sports, Ozone Group, etc.”