Deprive India’s 130 crore cricket-crazy people of live action for over six months, and what do you get? You get record breaking viewership numbers.
The opening match of IPL 2020 between Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians saw a record 20 crore viewers tune in, which is the highest viewership for any IPL match in history. “Thank you India and the world,” tweeted the IPL account. “We’ve recorded highest ever TV & DIGITAL viewership in IPL history,” it added.
Thank you, India 🇮🇳 and 🌏🌎🌏. It's been a dream start to #Dream11IPL. We've recorded highest ever TV & DIGITAL viewership in IPL history
— IndianPremierLeague (@IPL) September 22, 2020
The numbers weren’t only the best-ever for the IPL, but also broke records globally. “As per BARC, an unprecedented 20 crore people tuned in to watch the match,” tweeted BCCI Secretary Jay Shah. “Highest ever opening day viewership for any sporting league in any country- no league has ever opened as big as this,” he added.
Opening match of #Dream11IPL sets a new record!
As per BARC, an unprecedented 20crore people tuned in to watch the match. Highest ever opening day viewership for any sporting league in any country- no league has ever opened as big as this. @IPL @SGanguly99 @UShanx @DisneyPlusHS
— Jay Shah (@JayShah) September 22, 2020
Excitement for the IPL had been high after the league had been postponed following the coronavirus lockdown. The last six months have been hard for the world, and for India — India has already seen over 88,000 Covid deaths, and Indians haven’t had a lot of entertainment avenues to take their mind off all the gloom. No new movies have released in the period, and malls and other entertainment avenues have been shut. This has probably contributed to the IPL managing record-breaking viewership numbers.
The record viewership numbers will come as good news for IPL’s many sponsors. When Vivo was forced to pull out of sponsoring the IPL because of its Chinese origins, the BCCI had lost some money — Vivo was paying Rs. 440 crore per year for the title sponsorship rights, while the new sponsor, Dream 11 managed to snag the rights for Rs. 222 crore. But the IPL’s initial viewership data would indicate that companies sponsoring the IPL this year have got a great deal. This is also true for other Indian startups which jumped in to sponsor the IPL this year — credit card payment app Cred and ed-tech unicorn Unacademy are among the IPL’s sponsors this year, and will probably benefit from all the exposure the IPL is getting this year. There hasn’t been much to cheer about in 2020, but IPL’s record-breaking viewership numbers might just be the first glimmer of hope that things will be soon back to normal.