The 2024 pre-season mini auction preceding the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket competition has become the most-watched edition in history.
The six-hour annual event, which sees top players auctioned off among the IPL’s 10 teams, drew 22.8 million domestic viewers in India on the Star Sports channel, which is owned by global media giant Disney.
This figure, a 29% increase on the 2023 edition, made it the most-watched “mini” IPL auction recorded by India’s Broadcast Audience Research Council.
The trend of high IPL auction viewership is likely set to continue into 2025, as the 2025 auction is a so-called “mega” auction wherein each team’s composition changes entirely, making it likely to attract an even wider array of fans than the smaller-scale “mini” auction of 2024.
The total viewed minutes of the event added up to almost a billion, with audiences watching a combined 980 million minutes of the auction’s action.
Even the pre-auction live analysis shows drew 2.2 million viewers, a significant tally for what is effectively shoulder programming made to capitalize on the main event.
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The high viewership comes off the back of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announcing the beginning of the formal search for a title sponsor for the IPL for the 2024-28 period.
While the high auction viewership will please potential bidders, the tender is already sure to attract interest given the dominant popularity of the competition in the world’s biggest cricket market.
The highest bidder will not automatically secure the rights, as current title sponsor Tata, the Indian conglomerate, has a ‘right to match’ clause in their contract with the league, meaning they could still trump any new bidder. The BCCI is obligated to inform Tata of the value of the highest bid, and Tata then has five working days to inform the governing body whether it wishes to match that submission.
Tata has held these rights across the 2022 and 2023 editions of the IPL, with a deal between that heavyweight and the BCCI having been struck in January 2022 and set to expire before next year’s edition.
The auction’s high viewership has also been propelled by the popularity of the 2023 ICC Cricket World Cup, which took place in India and saw some of its top stars auctioned off, but also the record-breaking popularity of the 2023 IPL season.
JioCinema, the Indian streaming service run by Viacom18, set a new record for the most concurrent viewers of a live-streamed event through its coverage of the Indian IPL final on May 29.
The service brought in a peak of over 32 million viewers for the 2023 finale of the iconic domestic men’s tournament, in which the Chennai Super Kings triumphed over Gujarat Titans by five wickets.