It was a Sunday blockbuster with over 1.8 crore viewers tuning into the India-Pakistan T20 World Cup match on the digital streaming platform, Disney+ Hotstar.
The match was telecast on Star Sports in India for television but viewership numbers will be released only a week later by the television audience measurement body Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC). It was also screened on theatres of PVR and Inox, which reported large visitors coming to watch the match at their cinema halls.
On the Disney+ Hotstar app, which streamed the match live, it was the highest-ever viewership at 1.8 crore beating the previous record of 1.4 crore recorded between the two teams at the Asia Cup, a source said. There were 36 lakh live views when the first ball of the match was bowled by India's Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
When the Pakistan innings ended there were 1.1 crore viewers live on the app and this increased to 1.4 crore viewers during the innings break. A total of 40 lakh viewers watched when India's chase started, with the numbers rising to a record 1.8 crore when the match finished in India's favour, as former captain Virat Kohli led to a 4 wickets win.
Similarly, the multiplex operators INOX Leisure and PVR, which are showing the matches live on the screens of their cinema halls, have also witnessed phenomenal responses from the viewers.
INOX Leisure CEO Alok Tandon said, "The response that we got for this match across all the 90-plus cinemas across the country has been phenomenal, identical to a blockbuster movie. The electric environment in the auditoriums was much like what some one witnessed in the stadiums." PVR Joint Managing Director Sanjeev Kumar Bijl said the response to the game has been strong at PVR cinemas. “We have played this game at 122 screens in 51 cities across the country and the response has been strong all over. The charm and excitement of watching live sports on a big screen as a collective experience continues to gain strength in India,” he said.
Karan Taurani SVP of Elara capital said it is a positive trend and now lots of sports viewership is coming on digital streaming. Now sports have emerged as important for the video consumption market and every platform needs some kind of sports as lots of eyeballs do come here. "Tournaments of national interest and India-Pakistan matches are watched with a lot of passion. If you look at the growth in terms of viewership share on digital, its phenomenally high," he said.
However, he also added that such numbers may not be repeatable as the match was nail-biting and went up to the last ball but it''s a "positive trend" as lots of viewership is coming on digital platforms. However, he also added that the viewership of traditional media such as TV is stable and has no decline because people want to watch live content on TV and digital as per their convenience.