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TV, streaming records tumble during ICC cricket world cup

Disney Star says live telecast on TV of the final match between India and Australia drew 300 million viewers

TV, streaming records tumble during ICC cricket world cup
[Source photo: Press Insider]

Disney Star, the official broadcaster of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup, said the live telecast of the final match between India and Australia on Sunday drew 300 million viewers, shattering viewership records.

The match also set a record for peak concurrency on television with 130.5 million viewers tuning in at the same time, the broadcaster said, citing Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India viewership data.

Disney+ Hotstar, its streaming platform, recorded a peak concurrency of 59 million viewers, the company said.

The final’s peak concurrency exceeded previous peaks in the tournament, surpassing even the India vs Pakistan league match when 75 million viewers tuned in at the same time.

Overall, the tournament crossed a viewership of over half a billion with 518 million viewers, a first in the history of the event, accumulating a staggering 422 billion minutes of TV watch time.

“This becomes the most watched event in Indian television history,” Sanjog Gupta, head of sports at Disney Star, said. 

Disney Star’s strategy to stream the matches free on its mobile application also helped. India’s matches against Pakistan, South Africa, and the semifinal against New Zealand recorded 35 million, 44 million, and 53 million views on the platform, respectively.

K. Madhavan, country manager and president, Disney Star, said, “This is testament to the uniqueness of the India market where linear and digital continue to grow alongside each other. This successful tournament has set the stage for a promising future in our association with ICC.”

“Disney Star is dedicated to paving the road for sports broadcast in India and it has been extremely encouraging to see growth across both, the linear and digital mediums, thereby increasing the fan base of cricket,” he added. 

The success is a shot in the arm of Disney Star, which has been facing challenges from Mukesh Ambani-owned Viacom18 and JioCinema in the TV and digital space, respectively. 

Earlier this year, Disney Star lost the broadcast and digital media rights for India’s home matches for the broadcast cycle from September 2023 to March 2028. It also lost the Indian Premier League rights to Viacom18. 

Disney Star, however, has TV and digital rights to all ICC cricket matches in India till 2027. 

Walt Disney has been struggling to retain subscribers for its streaming platform, Disney+ Hotstar. The company is grappling with challenges from  Reliance’s Jio Cinema, which has steadily gained subscribers. 

In the quarter to September, Disney+ Hotstar lost around 2.8 million subscribers, with total subscribers now at 37.6 million.

There are speculations that Walt Disney is in talks with Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance Industries Ltd to sell its India business to the conglomerate in a cash and stock deal. 

Walt Disney chief executive Bob Iger, however, stressed earlier this month that the company would like to stay on in India.

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