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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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Indian Premier League Final Sets Global Viewership Record

  • Streaming service backed by Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani sets new global record
  • Fan activity marks another inflection for ongoing global rise of cricket
IPL team captains pose together before the start of the 2023-24 season
IPL

Cricket’s popularity continues to soar as the Indian Premier League drew a record digital audience for Monday’s 2023 IPL Final between the Chennai Super Kings and Gujarat Titans.

JioCinema, a streaming service backed by Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani — Asia’s richest man with an estimated net worth of nearly $90 billion and owner of the Mumbai Indians cricket team — attracted about 32 million concurrent viewers for the match, Bloomberg reported.

The figure — a global record for a livestreamed event — was boosted not only by free distribution of the rain-delayed, rain-shortened match, but also by fan speculation that Chennai’s star cricketer, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, would be making his final professional appearance.

Last year, JioCinema and parent Viacom18 secured the short-form cricket tournament’s digital rights, beating out rival bidders such as Disney with a reported five-year, $2.6 billion deal, and will now look to convert its record audience for free content into paid subscribers.

As that effort unfolds, investors and media companies continue to flock to the sport. After centuries of projecting a more staid, conservative image, in recent years the sport has been invigorated by injections of glitz and glamor for an increasingly higher profile.

Earlier this month, New York-based investment firm Tiger Global neared a $40 million deal to invest in the Rajasthan Royals, while efforts are also building to include cricket in the 2028 Summer Olympics.

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