World Cup: Indian Viewership on Track for Ratings Record

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Netherlands and Mexico at the World Cup

The first 27 matches were watched by a total 34.65 million viewers on the Sony Six network, compared with 44.9 million viewers for the entire 2010 World Cup.

While India may be crazy for cricket, the FIFA World Cup has attracted big viewership figures in the country.

According to the Sony Six network — which has exclusive India broadcast rights for the event — the first 27 matches of the World Cup reached 34.65 million viewers. The games are being shown on the network's two sports outlets, Sony Six and Sony Aath. Given the time difference, the first match of the day is aired live in India at 9.30 p.m., with subsequent matches airing well after midnight.

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The 2010 FIFA World Cup, which took place in South Africa, reached a combined total of 44.9 million viewers in India, according to a FIFA television audience report. By contrast, this year's recently concluded T20 World Cup cricket event drew a total of 120 million viewers.

But industry estimates here reckon the 2014 FIFA World Cup could reach 100 million viewers, more than double the total from 2010.

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A recent study on football viewership in India by TAMSports, the sports television arm of ratings agency TAM Media Research, listed football as the third-most-watched sport in India, after cricket and freestyle wrestling. The report added that between 2005 and 2009, football viewership in India rose by 60 percent.

The figures are notable given that India has never played in a World Cup, with the national team currently way down at the 154th spot on the FIFA world rankings.

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