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

Television ratings for the 2011 IPL have failed to build on the strong start provided by the opening game, falling 16.77% on average across six key markets from the corresponding period in 2010.

The average Television Viewer Rating (TVR, a time-weighted figure which accounts for time spent watching by viewers in addition to the number of viewers) for the first 15 games this season was 4.58 across the cities of Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad, down from 5.50 in 2010, according to TAM Sports, a division of TAM Media Research, the leading television ratings agency in India. The opening match between Chennai Super Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders had drawn a rating of 7.77, the highest since the 2008 opener.

Rohit Gupta, president of MSM Screen Media, told ESPNcricinfo that he wasn't worried by the lower ratings, saying that most of the evening games had ratings over five and that he expects the overall averages to improve as the tournament progresses. He suggested that the lower ratings were due to a larger proportion of afternoon games this year, but both years have actually seen the same number of afternoon games to this point - six.

In any case, it was a similar story looking at just the nine prime time games, which typically draw a higher rating than the 4 pm games. In 2010, they posted an average rating of 6.11. So far in 2011, that is down to 5.27, a drop of 13.81%.

The Mumbai Indians were the franchise that attracted the largest audience, with 14.8 million, watching them take on Royal Challengers Bangalore, giving it a reach of 21%, and 16.1 million tuning in for the game against Kochi Tuskers Kerala, a reach of 23%, making it the second-most watched game this season. That game, in which Sachin Tendulkar made his maiden IPL hundred but still ended up on the losing side after Kochi chased down 183, had a TVR of 6.74.

Even Mumbai's 4 pm game against Delhi Daredevil had 11.6 million fans tune in. No other afternoon game cracked the 10 million mark, though Kolkata Knight Rider's serene chase of 160 against Rajasthan Royals, which had Gautam Gambhir and Jacques Kallis adding 152 unbeaten runs, came close at 9.7 million.

The big surprise was the April 13 game between the two debutants - Pune Warriors and Kochi - that drew 15.9 million viewers, making it the third most-watched game so far. Pune was unbeaten at that stage and beat Kochi by four wickets to go to the top of the table.

Tariq Engineer is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo