The Dream11 IPL 2020 has indeed returned, and how! It notched up the world’s biggest opening day viewership numbers for any sporting league in any country, with a whopping 200 million (20 crore) watching the riveting opening match between Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings on both, the Star Sports cluster of television channels, and India’s biggest OTT platform by far, Disney+Hotstar.
BCCI secretary Jay Shah disclosed the numbers when he tweeted: “Opening match of #Dream11IPL sets a new record! As per BARC, an unprecedented 20 crore people tuned in to watch the match. Highest ever opening day viewership for any sporting league in any country- no league has ever opened as big as this.”
Opening match of #Dream11IPL sets a new record!
As per BARC, an unprecedented 20crore people tuned in to watch the match. Highest ever opening day viewership for any sporting league in any country- no league has ever opened as big as this. @IPL @SGanguly99 @UShanx @DisneyPlusHS
— Jay Shah (@JayShah) September 22, 2020
The numbers are a complete vindication of the massive investment and efforts that were put into the gargantuan preparation and presentation of this single largest and most awaited television event not just in India but, indeed, everywhere cricket is played, followed and loved. And in the dark days of the lockdown, it has brought unprecedented and truly welcome hope and happiness — a cheerful, exultant gift to elevate the spirits. No better example of joie de vivre right now. Let’s settle down and dig in. That’s the mindset.
We expect that the viewership on linear television would be much higher than that of digital, considering the lockdown which has enforced — but in the Dream11 IPL 2020 context, enabled — family viewing. And since Cricket is, after al, a game best enjoyed on the biggest screen available, and when the family joins in with eager expectation, the good old television screen is the great unifier and enhancer of engagement and entertainment. And the big winner. But let’s wait for the deeper dive of the viewership numbers to come in.
The IPL too has confirmed the numbers. It tweeted:
Thank you, India 🇮🇳 and 🌏🌎🌏. It’s been a dream start to #Dream11IPL. We’ve recorded highest ever TV & DIGITAL viewership in IPL history
— IndianPremierLeague (@IPL) September 22, 2020
What these numbers demonstrate is that there is no single player bigger than the game, and the IPL as a great property. The absence of Harbhajan and Suresh Raina has been completely forgotten, and that the two games have confirmed yet again, is that there are no holy cows or ‘favourites’ amongst the teams. On its day, any team can sweep the rug from beneath the other’s feet. Every youngster is a potential, hungry star-in-the-waiting. ‘Padikkal? Who Padkikkal?’ That might’ve been likely before the RCB–SRH encounter. SRH, hopefully, is wiser now. And the RCB fans have loved it.
So this promises to become the biggest and most popular IPL ever, and for persisting with and striving for it, great credit to BCCI, Star India and Disney+Hotstar and, of course, all the franchises. The rate at which endorsements, marketing tieups, campaigns and more are pouring out of the A&M woodwork, one might well ask: Lockdown? What lockdown?
Now, for the sake of the television broadcasting economy in India, and for the pleasure and joy of a mega-TV-property-deprived people, let’s hope and pray that the players and the entire eco bubbles remain secure and healthy, and this great relief called the Dream11 IPL2020 has an uninterrupted, glorious run.