The Rupert Murdoch and Mukesh Ambani-promoted Indian Super League (ISL) was watched by 429 million television viewers across India, just a shade lower than the Pro Kabaddi League's 435 million but two-and-half times more than the 2014 FIFA World Cup viewership in the country, organisers of the football league said. This makes ISL the third most-watched league in India, with the Indian Premier League cricket tournament ahead by a mile.
In a news release, the organisers said the average stadium attendance was around 26,000, making the ISL the most-attended league in Asia and among the top leagues in the world. About 37,000 people watched the final between Kerala Blasters FC and Atletico de Kolkata at Mumbai's DY Patil Stadium.
"Our intent was to awaken the passion of football and create the birth of a footballing nation. The resultant success of the Hero ISL justifies it as the right platform for tapping the pas sion for the sport that exists in India," said Uday Shankar, chief executive of Star India, which is the official broad caster of the league as well as one of the organisers.
"Football has now emerged as a clear No. 2 sport in the country . We have been very bullish on ISL and have had a large number of advertisers on it, including Samsung, ID BI, Muthoot, TTK. In fact, Amul has now tied up for three years," said Nandini Dias, CEO of Lodestar Media. She points out that with the league doing fairly well in its first year, advertisers will now be more amenable to putting in money.
According to the organisers of the ISL, 57 per cent of the 429 million viewers were women and children. On the digital front, starsports.com, the online broadcaster of the league, recorded more than 32 million visits during the tournament, surpassing the number for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Vinit Karnik, national director -sports and live events at media buying agency GroupM ESP, said in the last two months, many advertisers who were either fence-sitters or had rejected the league initially have started to change their mind. "They have accepted that it is a good beginning."