IPL finals score lower, but viewing up

League matches a boost for ad, African tourism revenue

NEW DELHI -- The finals of the Indian Premier League cricket event Sunday saw a significant drop in viewership over last year's event, according to ratings data Tuesday from Audience Measurement Media (aMap).

About 28.8 million viewers watched the match between Hyderabad's Deccan Chargers and Bangalore's Royal Challengers -- about 27% less than the viewership base of about 39 million viewers who watched the finals of IPL's inaugural season last summer in Mumbai.

But aMap pointed out that this year's IPL was still watched by more viewers in terms of net reach, since last season's net reach was 8.6 million, which grew to 11.4 million this year. The net reach is calculated by taking an average viewership reach of the top six cities among the country's estimated 87 million cable homes.

Compared with average TV ratings of 8.8 points throughout the 2008 season, this year saw a slight drop, at 8.3 points.

But observers consider this year's overall ratings a bonanza for broadcaster Sony Entertainment Television's hybrid cricket/movies channel SET MAX, given that the IPL was competing against nonstop election news coverage this summer.

Reports indicate that SET parent MultiScreen Media will garner more than 4 billion rupees ($83 million) in advertising revenue. MSM president, network sales, Rohit Gupta was quoted as stating the broadcaster got $16,700-$20,833 for 10-second spots. While figures for last year are not available, unconfirmed reports indicated that IPL's previous season commanded $10,416-$ 20,833 for a 10-second spot.

The final between teams from Hyderabad and Bangalore expectedly drew maximum viewership from southern India. IPL features a quicker format of cricket featuring eight franchised teams, some owned by top Bollywood stars such as Shah Rukh Khan and actresses Preity Zinta and Shilpa Shetty.

In addition to the nail-biting finish, the postmatch entertainment show ensured steady viewership, with performances by hip-hop star Akon, reggae star Eddie Grant, Bollywood actress Katrina Kaif and the winners of an ongoing IPL Miss Bollywood contest.

The IPL also turned into a tourism bonanza for South Africa, where the final weeks of the season were held after security concerns in India caused the remaining competitions to be moved. South African President Jacob Zuma in his closing ceremony speech stating that the monthlong event "has revived the South African economy, boosting it by 1 billion rand ($120 million)."