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NEW DELHI — The epic final match for the World Cup cricket tournament in Mumbai Saturday night between India and Sri Lanka was seen by a record 67.6 million TV viewers in India according to ratings agency aMap.
The finals were telecast on ESPN Star Sports network’s Star Cricket and Star Sports channels alongwith terrestrial statecaster Doordarshan though the aMap ratings figures only cover cable and satellite homes and not the additional terrestrial homes served by Doordarshan.
“The TV viewership broke all records. Sixty-four percent of (cable and satellite) homes were watching the game. Ratings peaked towards the end of the match when India held the World Cup. Advertisers can celebrate along with Team India!” said aMap VP Jiniti Shah.
India picked up the International Cricket Council World Cup after 28 years, following a nail-biting thriller of a match against tough opponents Sri Lanka unleashing a weekend of euphoric partying across the country.
The record shattering TV viewership beat the previous high of 67.3 million viewers who tuned in last week for the semi-final battle between arch rivals India and Pakistan.
The sheer pulling power of cricket compared to other sports is seen in the fact that the 2010 football World Cup final was witnessed by only 1.5 million people in India.
Given the wide appeal of cricket amongst the overseas Indian diaspora and other cricket playing countries, the viewership figures could be higher according to industry observers who also point to the fact that a sizeable audience in India also watched the match in multiplexes, restaurants and pubs.
With major film releases put on hold during the World Cup, some multiplexes dedicated about 35-40 percent of their screens to show the finals according to industry estimates.
In addition to the millions of fans cheering for team India, Bollywood came out in force to support captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni as he steered the team to victory. Spotted at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium were superstar Aamir Khan, South Indian film legend Rajnikant, veteran Bollywood star Vinod Khanna, actor Saif Ali Khan and actress Preity Zinta.
“Incredible! It’s like we just won our independence!” Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan posted on his Twitter account soon after the win.
“Chak De India!” superstar Shah Rukh Khan told reporters outside his mansion, referring to the title song of his 2007 sports movie that loosely translates as Go For It India.
As the Indian team went on a victory parade, the stadium roared with the sounds of the Oscar and Grammy winning song Jai Ho from Slumdog Millionaire composed by A R Rahman.
Expectedly, news channels went into overdrive throughout the weekend covering every aspect of the nationwide celebrations which saw massive crowds spilling out in major cities to small towns.
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