The third season of the Indian Super League football had a total viewership of 216 million, an overall increase of nine million from the last edition while the summit clash between Kerala Blasters and Atletico de Kolkata was watched by a record 41 million fans.
The organisers said ISL received tremendous response in its third edition with a total viewership of 216 million as compared to around 207 million last year.
One of the highlights of the season was the sharp increase in rural India viewership registering a cumulative figure of 101 million, indicating the widespread appeal of the sport, the organisers said in a release.
Key metro markets like Mumbai and Chennai emerged as top performers this season recording a surge of more than 50 per cent over last year along with a cumulative 20 per cent spike in viewership in Tamil Nadu.
This the ISL said demonstrated the growth of the sport beyond the traditional bastions of football. The season finale on December 18 between ATK and Kerala Blasters in Kochi turned out to be a grand sporting event with over 54,000 people thronging the stadium and 41 million fans tuning in on television to follow the match.
The total number of viewers was up 41 per cent as compared to the final of 2015, shattering all previous TV and digital records of the league. Football Sports Development Limited Founder and Chairperson Nita Ambani remained optimistic on the increasing popularity of Indian football attributing the surge in fan following and team affinity to 'ISL vision'.
"The overwhelming response from fans is testament to the vision we have for the league, and it reaffirms our faith that Indian football is moving in right direction.
The response from newer markets like Tamil Nadu and Mumbai, and further growth in established markets like West Bengal, Kerala etc shows the appetite for the sport.
Stadium attendance, viewership numbers and growth on digital platform this season further encourages us to reset our benchmark for the season ahead," Ambani said.
This season recorded a surge of over 25 per cent in overall viewer engagement vis-a-vis ISL 2015. This showcases the enhanced quality of play complemented by new look graphics and the best of experts on the commentary panel, cutting across demographic boundaries and capturing the imagination of a diverse fan base, the release said.
2016 edition also took the digital medium by storm registering a doubling of total 'watchtime' which was 2.3 times over last year on Hotstar and Jio platform.
The phenomenon of the Hero ISL was also visible at the stadiums throughout the season in all ISL club cities, with fan armies and football enthusiasts filling up an average of over 84 per cent seating capacity, the highest across all three seasons.