Driven by a young digital audience, and rapidly increasing smartphone and internet penetration, India is witnessing significant growth in online consumption of sports content. With increasing smartphone penetration and falling data tariff, online consumption of sports content is on the rise in India.
60% of the digital audience in India is within the age group of 13-35 years, which is also the primary target audience for short-format sports, such as Twenty20 cricket.
To cater to this growing trend, several broadcasters have developed the required capabilities. For example, Star India launched Hotstar, its online and mobile content platform, a fortnight before the International Cricket Council (ICC) Cricket World Cup (CWC) 2015, and was successful in generating interest from its viewers. Star India, which has the digital rights of the IPL, has witnessed significant viewership and engagement on Hotstar. Its viewership more than doubled to 110 million for the IPL in 2016 from 41 million in 2015.
Cricbuzz, a platform owned by Times Internet, a part of the Times Group, recorded a 40% jump in viewership of its website during the IPL during the same time, and users consumed as much as 30 billion page views, spending more than 24 billion minutes.
Online viewers are no longer a small, niche category. While most do not watch entire matches online, the average time spent per user is in the range of 30-35 minutes (on Hotstar). The majority of users (61%) access matches on mobile handsets and live in the top 10 metros. The first screen for the IPL still remains TV, but OTT platforms allow consumers to watch anytime anywhere and catch up on matches during travel time.
Digital consumption has also been instrumental in driving fan engagement in new age sports properties. Sports properties are connecting with their audiences online, and this consumer database on digital will be key to connect with the audience for further downstream ancillary revenues (digital fan memorabilia, loyalty programs, contests/polls etc.)
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The CSR Journal Team