Big jump in CLT20 television ratings
The benefits of having Indian participation through a global cricket tournament have been underlined in the television ratings for the 2010 Champions League Twenty20 held in South Africa - the figures, released on Thursday, show a spike of 36% over the 2009 event in India, with the final between IPL champions Chennai Super Kings and South Africa's Warriors drawing more than double the viewership of last year's final between New South Wales and Trinidad & Tobago.
The final drew an all-India TVR (TV rating) - the average number of people who watched a particular programme - of 3.30, meaning that 3.3% of all television viewers in India watched the game. The average TVR for each game in the Champions League across ESPN, Star Sports and Star Cricket was 1.45, up from 1.06 last year, according to TAM Media Research, the leading television ratings agency in India. In total 77.7 million tuned in over the course of 16 days, an increase of 12.7 million, or 19.5%, over last year.
In the coveted category of males over 15 years of age - sports viewership in India is still predominantly a masculine pursuit - the tournament collected an average TVR of 2.05 compared to 1.52 a year ago, an increase of 35%.
The tournament was marketed aggressively in India by the broadcaster, ESPN Star Sports (ESS,), with the thrust of the campaign being to get across the message that fans cannot afford to miss it. To do that, ESS signed Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan as brand ambassador and added Sourav Ganguly and Andrew Symonds to the commentary panel, and featured all three in a series of advertisements.
"The tournament was of a very good standard," Rathindra Basu, senior director - Corporate Communications & Business Development, ESPN Software India Pvt Ltd, said. "The Indian teams did well, with two teams reaching the semi-finals and one winning the tournament. We spent a lot of our resources in promoting this edition. We feel all these things contributed to the impressive increase in ratings."
Hiren Pandit, Managing Partner-Entertainment, Sports and Partnerships at Group M, a prominent media buying agency, said the increased ratings reflect the viewers growing familiarity with the event, which will have "a direct impact on the ratings going into next year as people are more aware of the Champions League. They [viewers] are getting comfortable with the format and the teams and that makes a difference.
"I think three to four years is when you will get it [consistent ratings]. But if people believe it will get viewership like IPL, that is an unfair comment."
The Mumbai Indians were the tournament's biggest draw: all four of their matches had a rating of at least 2.11, significantly higher than the tournament's average. Mumbai's game against South Australia, who won with three balls to spare, had a rating of 2.66, the second highest of the event.
The semi-final between Warriors and South Australia was surprisingly more popular than the one between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Chennai , drawing a TVR of 1.63 compared to 1.04 for the game between two IPL teams. That game was delayed for over two hours by rain however, and finished after 2 a.m. in India.
League matches between non-IPL teams still struggled to attract viewers. The best of the rest was the game between the Warriors and Victoria, which drew a 0.98 rating, well below the tournament's average. Wayamba and Central Districts, teams from Sri Lanka and New Zealand, had the lowest rating of 0.33.
The poor ratings for these games highlight the risk the Champions League faces if Indian teams were to struggle, and Sridhar Ramanujam, the head of Brand-Comm, a leading Indian brand consultancy and public relations firm, thinks this dependence on Indian success will ultimately inhibit the tournament's growth. "If Victoria and the South African teams are the best teams in this format, and they play a final, I can't see too many people watching."
Tariq Engineer is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo