According to BARC data, both Asia Cup 2022 and the Australia tour had 13% more viewers than similar series in the past, while the South Africa series had 30% more viewers than when the two teams played in June 2022.
Fatigue had set in after three seasons of IPL were squeezed in between 2020 and 2022, experts said. As a result, IPL viewership had dropped 30-35% in the initial weeks this year, as per BARC data.
Naysayers said it marked the demise of linear television as a medium and that digital is the way forward, even as the cost of the cricket broadcasting rights continued to rise. But broadcasters remained positive. “We worked towards resetting the narrative around cricket, because there was a lot of fatigue that had set in with almost back-to-back cricket that was happening,” said Sanjog Gupta, head of sports at Disney Star.
While sporting events resumed, including a lot of cricket, as countries started relaxing their Covid-19 protocols, people started going out more than ever. Various reports, including Google’s mobility report, showed more people were out of home than ever before, either on commutes or in offices or travelling. Outdoor recreational activities went up.
This took a toll on viewership, which dropped across genres between February and July, according to industry experts. “Now that we are effectively returning to what was normal – with some obvious modifications – going back to the office and readjusting to pre-Covid lifestyles, our relationship with TV is also going back to normal, at least where sports is concerned,” Gupta said. “TV is once again becoming the centre piece in a living room, just as it used to be before the pandemic.”
Incidentally, a recent Ormax Media report found that 44% of Indian sports fans like to watch live sports only on TV, while another 36% use both traditional and digital media to watch live sports. It’s only the remaining 20% who are watching sports exclusively on digital.