Men's football tournament Hero Indian Super League (ISL), whose third annual season began on October 1, had 369,000 impressions (number of times the tournament was viewed during live telecast) in its first week.
According to Broadcast Audience Research Council India (BARC), the bigger part of this viewership came from rural territories, 193,000 impressions, against urban’s 176,000.
Last year, BARC started giving out rural viewership data from the tournament’s second week; hence, 2016 first week data cannot be compared to 2015 first week data, which lacks rural viewership.
STAR India, a 33 per cent partner in the league, with IMG and Reliance Industries, is broadcaster for the league on television and digital platform. The tournament is being telecast in languages including Hindi, English, and Bengali across 10 channels (Asianet Movies, Jalsha Movies, STAR Gold, STAR Gold HD, Star Sports 1,2,3 (SD+HD). The viewership numbers are for all these.
Hero ISL faces competition from Kabaddi World Cup, also being telecast on the STAR Sports network. The India-South Korea match, first of the tournament, was the highest-rated sport event of the week (Hindi feed). On STAR Sports 3, the match got 3,592 impressions.
The Paytm test series between India and New Zealand was the second-most viewed sport event, with STAR Sports 3 attracting 2,233 impressions on day three of the second test match.
Experts feel the tournament has grown as football telecasts are increasingly consumed. Jigar Rambhia, national director, sports & entertainment, Maxus India, says: “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.’ ISL also brings in a lot of glamour, with lots of filmstars and cricketers being franchise owners and active viewers. For Indian football fans, ISL becomes a delight as they get to watch international stars who are playing for ISL teams, with the likes of Diego Forlan, Florent Malouda, Marco Materazzi, Zico and much more.”
The growth in numbers means advertiser confidence in the property would be sustained. With rural markets doing well, brands now have the opportunity to target these, too. “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,” adds Rambhia.
Apart from Hero as title sponsor, the league’s partners include DHL, Maruti Suzuki, Birla Tyres, Amul, Puma, The Muthoot Group, Gatorade and Seagram's Imperial Blue (music CDs).