FIFA World Cup boosts football viewership in India

For the first 58 matches, World Cup garnered a viewership of 194.1 million

New Delhi

Cricket remains the major contributor to sports viewership on Indian television, but football got a boost with the just-concluded 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia where India was not even participating.

Sports viewership year-on-year has gone up. While it contributed 2.8 per cent to total TV viewership in 2016, it grew to 3.2 per cent in 2017 and 3.48 per cent in 2018, according to data from the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC).

With 64 per cent contribution to the sports genre coming from cricket, it remains the dominant sport being consumed on TV currently. However, premium sports events like FIFA World Cup, Barclays Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga and more have also proved to be a hit with Indian viewers, BARC pointed out.

For the first 58 matches, the 2018 FIFA World Cup garnered a viewership of 194.1 million impressions, while the combined viewership for the first two India vs England T20 matches was 20.7 million impressions, the not-for-profit body that publishes weekly TV viewership data for India, said.

Impressions is the number of individuals of a target audience who viewed an “event”, averaged across minutes.

In June 2018 (week 23-27), which had both cricket (India vs Ireland and India vs England) and soccer (Hero Intercontinental Cup and FIFA World Cup), the contribution of soccer to the sports genre on TV was 30 per cent, while that of cricket was 15 per cent.

The scale of viewership for football has seen an upswing that was spurred by the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017, says Rajesh Kaul, Chief Revenue Officer, Distribution, and Head, Sports, Sony Pictures Networks (SPN), one of the predominant players in the sports broadcasting business in India.

“The FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017, which was the first FIFA event to be held in India, had a very positive impact on increasing viewership for football in India. The tournament turned out to be a milestone event as it became the most attended and highest-scoring tournament in its history.

“Over 35 per cent of total viewership for the FIFA U-17 World Cup came from non-traditional football markets. Overall reach was over 47 million viewers across India. With the FIFA World Cup 2018 Russia, the scale became even greater,” Kaul told

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