MUMBAI: People? What people? Indians suffer from cricket fever the moment a league starts. Abandoned malls, and streets with only some who were hurrying to reach home. Abandoned were the remote controls as well because 'there is no question about changing the channel anymore so the TV remote gets lost somewhere without a trace and no one minds.' Cricket is considered a religion in India and T20 is the latest format of worship.
The Indian Premiere League is undoubtedly one of the biggest properties in this format whose ninth season started in April and just concluded in May with 60 matches. Due to this curfew, programming themes like movies and fiction have seen a negative growth. Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) took a close look at the series to understand the unifying and divisive factors across series in this format. According to BARC, serials have witnessed a 2.4 per cent decline in its growth, while movies have observed 1.4 per cent decline.
The only program themes to show growth during IPL are cricket and kids. While cricket's viewership growth was driven mainly in weekends, growth in viewership of kids content was in weekdays. This was followed by a commensurately high drop in series and fiction. This might be a result of summer holidays wherein the kids' content might have been eating into TV viewing hours of the primary viewers of fiction series viz. their mothers. News, non-fiction, music, reality and talk shows are the other themes that get affected during IPL.
As opposed to that cricket had grown significantly more on weekends, which might have resulted in a drop in viewership across all other themes. However, the drop for fiction was reduced on weekends which are in keeping with conventional wisdom of soaps being popular on weekdays.
With such a crazy fan following, driving viewers to their programmes and channels remain to be a challenge for the broadcasters. It will be interesting to see what innovations broadcasters intend to bring during the next series to attract eye-balls.