The Indian Premier League (IPL) trophy (Image courtesy: iplt20.com, BCCI)
The Indian Premier League (IPL) last year made viewership records and the league is expected to better its viewership numbers for the 14th edition that started on April 9.
But it looks like the major contribution like last year will be coming from the TV.
This is because the viewership numbers on the digital front is seeing a drop.
Let's compare the opening matches of the current and the last season.
While the opening match between Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Mumbai Indians (MI) in IPL 13 saw a peak viewership of 8.4 million, this year the opening match between MI and Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) recorded a peak viewership of 6.7 million.
It was expected that this year the viewership particularly on Disney Hotstar, the platform video streaming the league, will be better than last year.
So, what happened?
Many experts were confident about viewership growth on Disney+Hotstar this year because the coronavirus situation was improving a little which had led to Indians getting out of their homes. And that meant many viewers watching the league on the go.
But the second wave of coronavirus has restricted mobility as many states due to rising COVID-19 cases have introduced night and weekend curfews and Maharashtra has gone under lockdown.
This is probably why there is a drop in viewership on Disney+Hotstar as once again TV has become the primary screen to watch IPL.
Also read – In-Depth | IPL 2021: Past, present and COVID-battered future of the ‘great cricket circus’
Even the second match between Delhi Capitals (DC) and CSK in the current season couldn't make any records. In fact, the match was unable to surpass the viewership number of the previous match between MI and RCB.
The viewership for the match between DC and CSK ranged between six and 6.5 million and dropped to 5.1 million in the last over when DC was chasing the target of 188 runs set by CSK.
The above viewership data shows that Disney+Hotstar not being the primary screen for a lot of viewers due to the COVID-19 pandemic is turning out to be a dampener for the streaming platform.
Over the years, the streaming platform has attracted many viewers, especially during the league. In fact, Disney+Hotstar has to its name big viewership records.
In 2019, the IPL had made new viewership records on Hotstar (now Disney+Hotstar). During the 12th edition, the match between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Mumbai Indians registered a concurrency of 12.7 million viewers, which was later broken by the final. IPL season 12's final match saw as many as 18 million viewers tuning into Disney+Hotstar.
Whether this year the streaming platform will make or break records that only time will tell. But for now, COVID curbs are not spelling good news for viewership on Disney+Hotstar.Follow Moneycontrol’s full coverage of IPL 2021 here