The recent rage around non-cricketing events has shown that Indians are open to sports other than cricket and the Indian Super League was a good example of it. Launched at a time when the fever around the Football World Cup had hardly subsided, it managed to whet the appetite of a football-hungry audience with international players and coaches as well as exciting young talent. According to media reports, ISL viewership across Star channels was second to only the IPL. On starsports.com, it is reported that viewership was close to 800,000 on each of the first two days.
On social media too, the ISL hype was considerable; driven by a well-thought out media strategy by even the individual teams, something we have not seen with other sports franchises. According to data analyzed by Simplify360, there were 68 thousand conversations on the opening day itself with over 89,000 conversations on the day of the finals. The official hashtag of the tournament #LetsFootball meanwhile was used around 1.39 million times on Twitter over the course of the tournament. The hashtag #IndianSuperLeague trended at the No.1 spot on Facebook and it is said that potential impressions on ISL and related hashtags could be as high as 2.5 billion across all digital platforms.
The overall tone of the topic was also positive said analysts at Simlify360. “Of the 71% of those who compared the game with the EPL had a positive take on the ISL, while the remaining were skeptical or concerned about the quality and the technical aspect of the broadcast,” said Bhupendra Kanal, Co-founder and CEO of Simplify360.
Among the sponsors, main sponsor Hero had the majority share of the chatter, taking 77.33% of the total buzz. Other sponsors like Samsung, Amul, Pepsi, etc. also saw significant increase in buzz due to their association with the ISL. A reason for this response should also be credited to the proactive approach taken by the brands and the organizers of the ISL. For example, before every match, fans were asked to participate in a “Twitter Battle” between the playing teams. Individual sponsors also launched their own contests and properties to engage the audience.