New Delhi: Viacom18 CEO Anil Jayaraj revealed that the 2023 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) garnered a record-breaking 449 million viewers overall, including 120 million connected TV consumers. He also added that artificial intelligence and digital technology will drive the future for sports broadcasting in India.
“There is nothing of the scale of IPL anywhere in the world. The paid TV universe in this country is expected to be about 100 million so for us to pick 120 million users on connected TV was quite remarkable in year one. Technology is going to make a major change as far as the digital landscape goes.” “Digital is where the innovation seems to be happening, especially in India with the number of mobile connections, 4G phones, data, and the pure behaviour around linear viewing interactively.
The use of technologies like AI will dramatically change our production of content and automation,” said Jayaraj at the RCB Innovation Lab’s Leaders Meet India in Bengaluru last month. Jayaraj also shed light on the phenomenal interest of Women’s Premier League’s (WPL) amongst viewers, advertisers, and investors. “What we have seen significantly is that the interest (of WPL), the crowd enthusiasm was phenomenal. The key thing for us was also the quality of production that BCCI put out.”
“For advertisers, it gives them an opportunity to target a very different demographic and that makes a lot of difference from a financial sort of sense for somebody like us who is investing,” he added.
Jayaraj further touched upon the growing prominence of consuming various sports other than cricket and he hopes that the upcoming 2024 Paris Olympics will change that narrative. “The Indian market is predominantly an advertising market. India is very much, on the track of consuming multiple sports but out of the top 100 broadcast or stream programs in the country, 92 happen to be cricket.”
“Hopefully, if we start seeing a lot more Indian athletes win, things will certainly change. That is why we are extremely hopeful of the Olympics. We believe that this is possibly going to be our best-ever performance as a country and I am sure that will be quite a breakthrough.”
Jayaraj pointed out that Indian sports viewing habits are almost entirely live as 99 per cent of the viewership is online and just 1 per cent happens to be around, highlights, non-live content, and documentaries. However, he was bullish about the growing market of sports documentaries and docu-series in India, predicting that it will become quite big over the next four or five years.