Indian Premier League 2011 April 28, 2011

TV ratings remain flat for IPL

Through IPL 2011, ESPNcricinfo will be tracking TV ratings using the TAM People Meter, India's leading TV ratings system. This is the second installment in the weekly series

The 2011 IPL continues to struggle to attract viewers compared to last season, with ratings down 21.99% on average for the first 26 games across six key markets. The drop was even steeper over the last ten games, with ratings falling by 27.08%. The likely culprits are cricket fatigue and a lack of familiarity with the teams, say media experts.

The average Television Viewer Rating (TVR), a time-weighted figure which accounts for time spent watching by viewers and the number of viewers, was 4.46 across the cities of Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad, down from 5.72 in 2010, according to TAM Sports, a division of TAM Media Research, the leading television ratings agency in India. The ratings are the lowest for the first 26 games since the tournament began in 2008.

For the 10 games beginning with Pune Warriors beating the Delhi Daredevils on April 17, and ending with Delhi scoring 231 in their crunching defeat of Kings XI Punjab on April 23, the average rating per game was just 4.20.

Sridhar Ramanujam, who heads brand consulting firm Brand-Comm, says India's sensational World Cup triumph is finally taking its toll. Ramanujam said he had recommended the IPL to his clients as a safer bet than the World Cup because television viewership for international cricket "is directly rated to India's performance and non-performance." India, however, went on a dream run to lift the World Cup. "[It had] everything you could hope for as a die-hard Indian cricket fan," Ramanujam told ESPNcricinfo. "Beating Australia in the quarter-finals. Beating Pakistan in the semi-final. Everything was at an all-time high. So after the World Cup, what?"

Ramanujam also believes the lack of outstanding games so far in the tournament has contributed to the decline in ratings, saying that aside from a few memorable performances from Paul Valthaty and Lasith Malinga, none of the games have caught his imagination.

Mumbai Indians, who currently sit atop the points table, continue to be the strongest draw for fans, partly because of the Sachin Tendulkar factor and partly their winning streak. Mumbai's game against defending champions Chennai Super Kings in Mumbai posted a 6.70 TVR, the third-highest rating so far, with 16.9 million turning in to watch Rohit Sharma and Harbhajan Singh deliver victory to the home side on Good Friday. But even the Mumbai Indians' ratings have suffered in comparison to last season, falling from an average TVR of 6.74 (over six games) to 5.29 (over five games).

For Hiren Pandit, Managing Partner-Entertainment, Sports and Partnerships at Group M, a prominent media buying agency, the continued popularity of Mumbai Indians suggests that the ratings are more likely a product of the confusion caused by players changing teams rather than cricket fatigue.

"My take is the teams have changed. Now because teams have changed, I think people are still figuring out who plays for whom. You are so used to a Yuvraj [Singh] playing for Kings XI but now he plays for Pune. So that is where to the problem lies"

Pandit expects ratings to pick up again as fans come to grips with all the changes but Ramanujam thinks the ratings will continue to suffer until the semi-finals, saying, "basically, it is overkill and too much of a good thing".

Tariq Engineer is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo