The Vivo Indian Premier League (IPL) 2018 player retention event had 8.1 million people tuning into the STAR network on television and digital.
The event, which had never been televised/streamed online over the decade-long history of IPL, was available on the Star Sports network on TV, and on Hotstar on digital.
According to data from STAR India, 4.1 million TV viewers watched the event across the network on January 4 and four million witnessed it on Hotstar.
The TV viewership is according to Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) data for viewers above the age of two years in the urban and rural territories.
The event saw representation from all the franchises and was the first event to flag off this year's tournament. Selected fans from each team were invited to the proceedings and could ask questions on team-building strategy and player-retention tactics.
Rahul Johri, chief executive officer, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), said, "The discovery and nurturing of great cricketing talent, and developing the infrastructure throughout the country are important pillars of our mission at BCCI. “
“Therefore, a quantum increase in the growth and popularity of the VIVO IPL 2018 would immensely scale up deliveries on those important fronts. We are delighted that with the transformative technology and the might of TV and digital combined, the VIVO IPL 2018 seems poised to be bigger than ever before."
For STAR India, the event also meant setting the tone for the IPL telecast on its network. The network won the rights to the annual T20 league last year for a tenure of five years.
As part of its plan to monetise the cash-rich tournament, it has mapped out a plan to make it a six-month event on TV and digital.
While earlier, the incumbent broadcaster, Sony Pictures Network India (SPN), used to telecast the auction and then the matches, Star India intends to add layers to the telecast that can scale up the viewership from 540 million (across TV and digital) to 700 million this year.
This in turn is expected to help Star India monetise the tournament better since brands will have avenues for longer engagement with the IPL, and the TV and digital advertising inventory would also expand.
Sanjay Gupta, managing director, Star India, said, "The unprecedented response to the retention event across TV and digital is early proof of what Star's scale and Hotstar's technology possibilities can accomplish.”
“By offering the VIVO IPL to cricket fans lovers through both, the Star Sports network and Hotstar, Star India will be with the consumer at every viewing opportunity, unleashing enormous convenience and richness of content for the consumer and the advertiser."
On social media, the event dominated conversations across platforms with 35,000 mentions making the VIVO IPL Retention Day comparable to the chatter during a T20 match.
It was trending #1 in India on Twitter within minutes of the telecast.
Venky Mysore, CEO, Kolkata Knight Riders, said "I was very impressed with the proactive approach of Star India with the first ever piece that was done on IPL retention on January 4.”
“The ideas around the AV (audio/visual), graphics, involvement of the owners and management, and particularly the fans present at the event must have added a great deal of enjoyment to viewers of this programme.”