NEW DELHI: As many as 8.1 million concurrent viewers logged on to official broadcaster Star India’s video streaming platform Disney + Hotstar to watch the first match of Indian Premier League (IPL), 2020, on Saturday, as per LetsOTT, a Malaysian-based digital media company. The numbers are significant as the match was behind a paywall, said media buyers.
MS Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings’ (CSK) defeated defending champions Mumbai Indians by five wickets in the opening match which marked the return of live sports in India after almost six months.
These numbers are close to the 8-10 million per match digital viewership mark of the 2019 edition of IPL. However, last year Jio users had free access to Hotstar.
“If these are numbers on the first match, that too behind a paywall, then the viewership will hit 25-30 million per match towards the end of the IPL. This is a fabulous and unprecedented performance,” said Sandeep Goyal, chairman, Mogae Media, a Mumbai-based marketing and communication agency.
According to Goyal, this is how Star can actually create meaningful RoI for the huge monies it pays the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
“If Star succeeds with the pay experiment with Hotstar, it will create precedence for a lot many more digital properties,” he added.
Shradha Agarwal, co-founder and COO at digital marketing agency Grapes Digital, said the viewership was encouraging and is expected rise as content has so far been limited to entertainment and news.
Disney + Hotstar, which earned ₹300 crore in revenues last year, said it has signed 13 sponsors and almost sold out the ad inventory for IPL 2020 to firms like Procter & Gamble, Kelloggs, Himalaya, Apple, Intel, JSW, Ikea, Jeep and Urban Company, among others.
With the coronavirus pandemic delaying the T20 tournament to the second half of the year, IPL is being held in empty stadiums in the United Arab Emirates which, experts said, is expected to drive digital and television viewership.
The network garnered 300 million viewers on to its video-streaming platform, Hotstar, to watch the 12th edition of the T20 tournament in 2019 — a 74% jump in watch-time from last year.