BLOG | by Joseph Eapen

Soccer – Is Indian soccer bouncing back from difficult season?

In the weeks when there’s no cricket being played out, soccer in India can be the country’s most-watched sport.

Although TV audiences don’t tend to get close to the country’s favourite pastime – watching T20 cricket – it’s testament to the Indian Super League’s organisers that a competition which is only five years old can achieve such a profile.

Nevertheless, last season was a difficult one for the ISL. Ratings were down as the tournament shared airspace with the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL), the elite version of India’s second favourite sport.

It’s no coincidence then that this year, the PKL and ISL seasons don’t overlap. In fact, the pro-soccer season started a day after the PKL concluded. That has a lot to do with broadcaster Star India, who have stakes in the rights of both sports and will have seen that both properties suffered ratings drops last season.

So the question for the new season of ISL is whether its decline was part of a longer trend – or just a blip as it competed in the schedules?

Well, our data suggests the latter.

Comparing ratings data from the first 20 matches of each of the past three seasons, you can see that the ISL has staged a significant recovery compared to last year. In 13 of those games, ratings are higher than they were last year. And on average, audiences are up 15.4% over the same period.

Of course, comparing part-season by part-season data like this is not foolproof (for example an early run of very attractive games for audiences can skew a result) but initial data looks good for the ISL. Let’s see if it can now return to Season 4 form, given a run that is clear of kabaddi.

BLOG | by Joseph Eapen

Senior Vice President, India

Joseph has 20 years’ experience in marketing research and media measurement.  He joined YouGov Sport from Repucom where he was SVP South Asia. Prior to that, he was at Media Research Users Council (MRUC), an industry body in India, where he was CEO and responsible for the Indian Readership Survey 2010 (the largest readership study in the world). He was previously the CEO of aMap, the second largest overnight TV ratings company in the world.