The Times of India had an article today on how the IPT TV ratings have slipped after an initial bang. Was it unexpected? Not really. The IPL is supposed to be modeled after the league structure in soccer. However, there remain major differences between the two.
Soccer is a sport where club rivalries have been established over decades, with most major clubs being more than five to six decades old. The international matches are few and far in between, with only one major international tournament every two years (the World Cup and the Euro Cup/Copa America). Therefore the level of interest in the club as well as the international matches remain very high. One the other hand cricket has since its beginning been a sport which has seen inter-country rivalry rather than inter-club rivalry. So the legendary tourneys have been the Ashes and the Indo-Pak series earlier, and the Indo-Australia series nowadays. Other than in England, the league structure is not very widely watched in countries that have high TV audience, i.e, the Asian countries (the Ranji trophy being an example). Further, there is enough international action with almost one large tournament every year (World Cup, Champions Trophy and now the T20 World Cup).
Next is the fact that the IPL T20 league is an overdose in a sport that already suffers from excesses. Lets take India for example. It played nearly 10 Test and 40-50 ODIs last year, exlcuding the T20s. Which means nearly 100 days of cricket every year. 8 teams in IPL will play close to 60 matches over a period of 7 weeks. Which means you would be watching Indian cricket every 2-3 days, in a year that is (and I haven’t even included the ICL). Compare this with UEFA Champions League where 32 teams from different nations play 122 matches over 8 months. There are saas-bahu soaps that are on TV lesser number of times than cricket for God’s sake!! [There goes the argument that “yeh saa-bahu toh roz hi aata hai“].
I think these would be major factors in reducing the viewership of cricket in general, and IPL T20 in particular. And I haven’t even started on the atrocious commentary (Arun Lal – Stop talking for Christ’s sake!!) and pathetic production (We are taking a break, no we are not, no we are done for the day!). And did I hear someone say overdose of advertisements?