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TV (Small Screen) vs IPL: The Battle for Eyeballs




TV industry insiders reveal their strategies for competing with IPL viewership during the annual cricket tournament season.

As the Indian Premier League (IPL) kicks off, the small screen is bracing itself for the competition. With viewership numbers skyrocketing for the IPL, industry insiders are taking measures to keep audiences hooked to their TV shows. From introducing new twists to pushing the launch of new shows, the TV industry is leaving no stone unturned to retain its audience.

According to reports, the initial IPL TV viewership has shown an increase, with the broadcaster getting a total of 8.7 billion minutes of consumption in TV for the opening match on March 31. As per BARC India data, it is 47 per cent more than last year and the highest ever, other than IPL editions played in Covid-19 years. This surge in viewership has created a significant threat to the small screen.

“We have to pull up our socks because the competition is real. We really have to be on our own toes till IPL is on, and still there will be a hit,” says Sudhanshu Panday, an actor on the TV show Anupamaa.


The pressure to keep up TRPs also ripples down to actors. Karan Vohra, an actor on the TV show Imlie, says, “IPL is the most distressing phase in the TV industry. Even before it starts, the anxiety comes, where the makers think of introducing high points, major sequences, new sequences. The threat is there, and these high points as well as the twists do take a toll on the actor as we also have to be on our toes and mentally get ready for any sequences.”

The competition from IPL has led TV producers to introduce new strategies to attract viewers. For instance, Bhabi Ji Ghar Par Hai! has introduced a special fishing village sequence to keep the viewers hooked. However, many channels have deferred the launch of shows as sampling would not be proper, and the TRPs would be low. The makers are also refraining from introducing lavish sequences, new characters, and launching new shows during the IPL season.

“Creative teams experiment during IPL for the sake of TRPs. They indulge in all the possible plots and twists that can revive the TRPs. And sometimes the twists involve the protagonist dying to pull back viewership too. It has worked for some, but for many others, it’s not done much,” says Ridhiema Tiwari, an actor on the TV show Raaz Mahal.

The competition from IPL has also pushed TV producers to study the past and plan their strategies accordingly. Binaifer Kohli, a producer of Bhabi Ji Ghar Par Hai!, says, “The first week, the IPL craze is super high, and then it becomes normal in the second week, but it depends on the matches. That being said, we need to keep pumping up the excitement factor.”

However, some TV producers are optimistic that the entry of cricket in the OTT world will ease the pressure on TV shows. “We know it is tough competition, and we can’t be lax. But that being said, we have such high-rating shows, we can’t just introduce any sequence to get eyeballs. The content should not be compromised. That being said, we can’t be complacent,” says Rajan Shahi, a producer of Anupamaa.


Yash Patnaik, a producer of Tere Ishq Mein Ghayal, adds, “If you look at IPL, earlier the entire family had one screen, but with the digital screen, we have multiple screens. Television audiences are mostly females, and IPL has mostly male viewers, and if you look at the size of the audience, the fiction audience is much bigger.

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