Indian Premier League 2011 April 14, 2011

IPL beats cricket fatigue worries

The opening game of the 2011 IPL saw the highest television ratings across six key markets since the league's debut season, potentially allaying questions about cricket fatigue in the wake of the World Cup.

A total of 19.7 million people tuned in to watch Chennai Super Kings' narrow two-run victory over a new-look Kolkata Knight Riders side on April 8, giving Set Max a 29% share of the total cable television viewership in the metros of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad. That translated into a Television Viewer Rating (TVR) of 7.77, up from 6.95 last year, and trailing only the 8.21 rating posted in 2008, according to TAM Sports, a division of Tam Media Research, the leading television ratings agency in India (TVR is a time-weighted figure which accounts for time spent by viewers in addition to the number of viewers).

The all-India TVR for the same game was 7.14, according to TAM, and Set Max claims that a total of 55.8 million people caught the action, setting a new record for the league's first day. For the sake of comparison, a total of 122 million people watched India beat Sri Lanka in the World Cup final earlier this month.

In the lead-up to the IPL, there was some concern that the six-week long World Cup that ended with India being crowned champions might have satiated the Indian cricket fan's appetite for the game, but the strong initial ratings suggest that the IPL, which is packaged as family entertainment, continues to resonate with viewers.

"It is a TV show with cricket as the subject," Santosh Desai, the chief executive of Future Brands, told ESPNcricinfo. "You don't put yourself in it as much as you would if India were involved. It is a long engagement, low intensity model that is commercially viable."

The two games on Saturday, April 9 - Rajasthan Royals v Deccan Chargers and Kochi Tuskers Kerala v Royal Challengers Bangalore - drew lower ratings that the opening game for the same six metros, reflecting how much local interest and the timing of the matches affects the ratings. Rajasthan, who won the right to compete in the tournament in court, cruised past Deccan by eight wickets, and the game was watched by 9.4 million, garnering a rating of 2.54. However, that match started at 4 p.m., unlike the other two games, which were played in prime time.

Bangalore beating Kochi by six wickets therefore elicited more interest, especially since one of the marquee teams was playing, registering a TVR of 5.17 and attracting 15.3 million viewers.

Tariq Engineer is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo