In contrast, 98 million people watched the first 11 matches of the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup, which was held in England. The male 15+ demographic is a key target audience for advertisers who buy sponsorships and spot buys for cricket matches.
Cricket audience not declining, but is divided
Media experts attribute the drop in TV viewership to free cricket streaming by Disney+ Hotstar, which has been recording record viewership numbers. Disney+ Hotstar is streaming the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup for free to mobile users. TAM Media CEO LV Krishnan, told ET, “In real terms, the audiences for CWC ’23 haven’t declined but have split between live linear broadcast on TV and live digital streaming on OTT. If we look at peak concurrent viewing for the India-Aus match, approximately 8.2 crore audiences have been split in a 70:30 ratio skewed to TV. The same could indicatively be 85:15 in favour of TV for CWC in 2019.”
Disney+ Hotstar recently set a world record with a peak concurrency of 35 million for the India vs. Pakistan match. The match had attracted 225 million viewers on the platform. Prior to that, JioCinema held the record for peak concurrency of 32 million for the Indian Premier League (IPL) final between Gujarat Titans and Chennai Super Kings.
EssenceMedia South Asia CEO Navin Khemka said that cricket viewership is getting fragmented between TV and digital. “This year, the concurrency numbers, even for non-India matches, are also very high. So, the cricket viewership is fragmenting. In 2019, the digital reach was not that big,” he added. Khemka said that the combined TV and digital viewership of the ICC CWC 2023 will be higher compared to the previous edition. “The TV numbers are also decent considering the fragmentation in viewership,” he noted.
The numbers that talk
The India vs. Australia match was the most-watched game of the tournament with 4.77 TVR, while India vs. Afghanistan had a 3.41 TVR. The BARC data is for weeks 41 and 42 until October 13. After the two India matches, the Sri Lanka vs. Pakistan match had the highest TVR of 1.67. The opening match between England and New Zealand had 1.4 TVR.
Disney Star, which holds both TV and digital rights to the ICC CWC 2023, is also airing the matches on the Star Sports network. The network is reportedly eyeing to generate ad revenue of between Rs 2,000 to Rs 2,500 crore from both TV and digital.