Television viewership for the FIFA World Cup on Sports18, which is part of the Viacom18 network, is steadily growing, based on data from the Broadcast Audience Research Council of India (BARC), sourced from the industry.
BARC data shows that cumulative reach of the first 58 matches, which includes the quarterfinals held last Friday, Saturday and Sunday, has touched nearly 47 million from 42 million for the first 48 matches, registering a growth of nearly 11 per cent.
When compared with the first 19 matches of the tournament, growth in viewership for the first 58 matches is almost 51 per cent. Cumulative reach of the first 19 matches was nearly 31 million. According to the data, growth in cumulative reach of the first 19 matches against the first 48 matches is 35 per cent. BARC viewership data is for cable & satellite audiences, 2+ years and above for both urban and rural markets.
Reach means the number of people who have tuned in to watch a match or matches. Average reach per match for the first 58 matches is 6.31 million while the average reach per match for the first 48 matches is 5.88 million.
“TV viewership growth has been steady for Sports18 during the FIFA World Cup. This is good for the Viacom18 network, which is looking to increase its base of viewers, given that Sports18 is a young channel, launched in April this year,” says Sajal Gupta, chief executive officer of Gurugram-based consultancy Kiaos Marketing.
The Reliance-backed Viacom18 has also been looking to increase its base of digital viewers as it prepares to stream the Indian Premier League from 2023-27 on its digital platform. This had prompted the broadcaster to live-stream the FIFA World Cup for free on its JioCinema app, a first for a broadcaster in India.
Anil Jayaraj, chief executive officer, Viacom18 Sports, had indicated earlier that free streaming would ensure “easy access” for viewers of the football tournament.
According to sources, the Jio Cinema app has crossed over 1.1 billion views during the FIFA World Cup. It is also the most-downloaded free app on Android and iOs phones.
JioCinema’s monthly active users has touched nearly 110 million from 85-90 million earlier, persons in the know said. Disney+ Hotstar, on the other hand, has monthly active users of around 300 million, thanks to a mix of cricket, led by the IPL, and entertainment content available on the app.
In terms of paid subscribers, Disney+ Hotstar has a user base of 61.3 million in the July-September period, which is a 42 per cent jump over the year-ago period, according to its September quarter results released recently. Paid subscribers for the JioCinema app were not immediately available.
But the interesting part is that Disney+ Hotstar may stand to lose some of its paid subscribers, say experts, as Viacom18 begins streaming the IPL on its digital platform from next year. “Hotstar could lose at least 30-40 per cent of its paid subscribers as the IPL shifts to Viacom18,” says Karan Taurani, senior vice-president, research at Mumbai-based brokerage Elara Capital.
For Viacom18, the journey has just begun.