Monday, November 29, 1999

Football scores with women, middle-aged, masses

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Those doubting the popularity of football in India, figure this: a total of around 20 million watched the action in the first two days of the FIFA World Cup - 35% more than the number tuning in on these days of the last edition of the championship in 2006.And while Indian politicians continue to debate 33% reservation for women in parliament, Indian women have already taken a third of the seats in front of the TV - around 7 million watched the matches on June 11 and 12.The not-so-young are watching: viewership analysis by television audience research company TAM Media Research shows people above the age of 35 made up the largest chunk - 46% - of viewers; those between the ages of 15 and 24 contributed half that: 23%.Some 3.2 million Indians watched the opening ceremony. As the song and dance gave way to the real thing, cumulative viewership rose to 10.8 million for the first match (South Africa v Mexico); then to 12.5 million for the late night game between Uruguay and France. By the fifth match - England v USA, beginning 11.50 pm IST on June 12 - 20 million had tuned in.While these figures are still small compared to those for cricket - 17.6 million watched the opening ceremony of IPL 3 in March, and the 59 matches had a cumulative viewership of around 150 million - they are impressive for a country that has never played the World Cup.There are more surprises. The tournament in South Africa has been the most popular not in football-crazy Kerala or West Bengal, but in Assam. The state recorded a TVR of 5.6, followed by Kerala (4.2), Bengal (4.1), and then, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Delhi and Tamil Nadu. TVRs Football scores with women, middle-aged, masses(television rating points) indicate the percentage of people watching a particular programme at a given time.A significant number of people watched in the poor states of Chhattisgarh, UP, Bihar, Rajasthan and Orissa - Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan in fact, had larger viewerships than more developed Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.Again, the Cup has been most popular with those at the bottom of the urban pyramid. According to the TAM analysis, socio-economic categories (SECs) D and E contributed 46% to the total viewership against 13%, 23%, and 18% by SEC A, B and C."The frenzy is crazy... I am delighted with the way things have unfolded in the first week," said R C Venkateish, MD, ESPN Software India Pvt Ltd, which is broadcasting the event in India.

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