Cricket vs news: Bihar poll results may have queered viewership pitch for IPL finals

Nandana James Mumbai | Updated on November 12, 2020

The cliffhanger political battle is likely to have distracted viewers, say consultants

Even as broadcasters and webcasters have been talking about Indian Premier League 2020 amassing unprecedented viewership, early estimates suggest that Tuesday’s final match may have been anticlimactic, with a possible fall in the numbers of those tuning in.

Mumbai Indians and Delhi Capitals clashed in the finals of the Dream11 Indian Premier League 2020 with the former winning easily.

The seesaw battle for supremacy in Bihar may have played spoilsport, distracting viewers from the final IPL match. “Timing is of utmost importance. When two big fixtures clash, one of them is going to suffer in terms of viewership, for sure,” said Harish Bijoor, brand guru and founder, Harish Bijoor Consults.

IPL 2020 had the highest viewership ever

The Tuesday factor

The Bihar poll results were a cliffhanger and may have caused many to stay hooked to the news channels, and give the IPL finals a miss, affirmed Lloyd Mathias, Business Strategist and Angel investor. Indeed, the race between the Nitish Kumar-led National Democratic Alliance and the Tejashwi Yadav-led Grand Alliance — comprising the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Congress and Left parties — saw the counting drag on for more than 16 hours.

IPL 2020: New pitch, different rules but it’s game on for brands

Giraj Sharma, founder director of Behind the Moon, a brand consultancy, felt that the final match taking place on a Tuesday — rather than on a weekend — with most people being on their way back from work, could have been another factor that impacted viewership.

“Another contributory factor was that the two IPL finalists, Mumbai Indians and Delhi Capitals, had met twice in the league phase and again in the playoffs just five days prior to the finals. So this, in effect, was the fourth encounter between the two sides with Mumbai Indians winning the previous three,” said Mathias. Moreover, as he pointed out, the match itself was a tame affair with Mumbai Indians winning rather easily.

‘Cricket scores over news’

Gopinath Menon, business strategist, Gopinath Menon Consulting, however, sounded a contrarian note. He said that news could never compete against mass programmes like entertainment or cricket. “The maximum average peak rating for any top news programme is 0.3 while for IPL it is close to 11,” he said. He said election coverage seldom has stickiness as people see the results and move on while IPL has loyal viewers who tend to be glued on for long.

Both Disney India and Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) said that actual data on the viewership numbers of the final were not available yet. So we will have to wait and see the final day's viewership outcome. Meanwhile, Disney India said on Monday — citing BARC as the source — that this year’s IPL has already surpassed last year’s 326 billion minutes consumption (TV only) with just 50 out of 60 games.

Published on November 12, 2020

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