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WPL: Great show on ground, but what about TV?

Industry players said TV viewership for the first edition of Women’s Premier League was less than expected but decent

by Aditi Gupta
Published - Mar 28, 2023 9:03 AM  |  5 min read

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The first TATA Women’s Premier League (WPL) concluded on March 26, 2023, with a tremendous response on ground. DY Patil saw a full house for the final, but the response was tepid in terms of TV viewership, shared industry players.

It was a different story on digital. JioCinema, which streamed the tournament free as the official digital streaming partner, clocked the highest watch-time per user (more than 50 minutes per match), according to Viacom18 Sports.

“Our vision is to nurture TATA WPL into the biggest women’s sporting league in the world, and this is a big leap in that direction. To see it already on its way to becoming the largest viewed sports event in the world in the first season is a remarkable feat and testament to the potential,” said Viacom18 Sports CEO Anil Jayaraj.

Commenting on the advertisers roped in for WPL, he further said, “We’d like to thank our 50+ advertising partners that met us eye-to-eye on this vision, viewers who pushed us to raise the bar and deliver a world-class viewing experience.”

As per the official release, the inaugural season of TATA WPL on JioCinema delivered the highest viewership for any women’s event globally. In fact, the summit clash of the inaugural season between Mumbai Indians and Delhi Capitals saw over 10 million new viewers tuning in.

We are yet to receive the television viewership figures for the finals but industry experts said the ratings were decent for the first couple of matches. However, they are hopeful that the numbers for the semis and finals would be better.

While Madison Media CEO Amol Dighe said the WPL television ratings till the third week were “not fantastic” but decent, Jigar Rambhia, COO of sports ed-tech startup Sporjo, expressed disappointment at the TV numbers, saying they weren’t looking good.

“The TV numbers have been disappointing as the response on-ground has been tremendous. We had a completely sold-out match on Sunday with 35,000 people at the DY Patil stadium for the finals. In fact, the match before that also pulled a crowd of 20,000-25000 people. Getting such numbers for a women's cricket match is not easy and if that has been achieved, I am not sure why TV numbers aren't looking good,” Rambhia wondered.

Sharing the viewership data for the first three weeks of WPL, Madison’s Dighe said the TV rating for the first week was 0.22, which went up to 0.28 in the second week, and 0.27 in the third.

As per Dighe, the male viewership rating for week 1 was 0.2 TVR, in week 2 it was 0.32 and by week 3 it was 0.31.

“The ratings till the third week were not fantastic but it was decent. The expectations were high and I think the ratings for the semi-final and final matches will be better (figures are not available yet),” Dighe noted.

A senior media planner, on the condition of anonymity, said the WPL TV ratings have been decent.

“It was the first edition and with time, WPL will catch up on popularity, but it was a decent start. Also, it's a first edition and there is no data available for comparison. For women’s cricket it's a good start.”

According to data available with exchange4media, in terms of cumulative LIVE reach, in Week 1, 51 million people watched it LIVE while 61 million watched in Week 2.

Sharing the duration of advertising spots in the matches, Dighe said that the ads got 1,800 seconds of air time during the first match, which increased to 2700 seconds by the 14th game.

Talking about the revenue generated by the league, a senior industry person said Viacom18 Sports is likely to have met its targets as the number could be as high as Rs 80-90 crore. Over 50 advertisers and 10 sponsors have signed on with the official broadcaster. Some industry experts said it was too early to provide exact figures, but the official broadcaster is expected to earn around Rs 70-90 crore.

Sharing more insights was Sandeep Goyal, Managing Director, Rediffusion, who opined that WPL had a good start and is likely to gain momentum over the years. “Like all new initiatives, WPL 1 has had a good start. I personally played a frontal role in IPL 1 more than 15 years ago and TV ad revenue was a mere Rs 200 odd crore, no more. Today it is 20 times the initial number. So WPL too will gain momentum over the years. Viacom18, I believe, met targets as the feedback has been positive all around.”

Advertisers’ score

Viacom18 Sports, the official broadcaster and digital partner of WPL had signed around 10 sponsors for this first season - Tata Motors, Tata Capital, Hero Vida, BoB, MPL Striker, World Gold Council, H&M, JSW Paints, Noise and Apar Industries.

The women’s league also attracted advertisements across categories and their interest went up from the first match to the 14th, noted Dighe. “I can say it was a decent beginning for the WPL this year. Advertisers' interest also went up and there were ads across categories.”

Rambhia, too, said that the tournament was well received. “Every team sold out every possible slot. TV and digital were almost full. I am hoping it is decent money for Viacom18.”

Goyal, however, noted that advertisers were experimenting with no large commitments. “They were just wetting their feet,” he said.

With inputs from Sonam Saini

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