Since its inception in 2014, the Indian Super League (ISL) has endorsed the roadmap for football in India, according to an independent study conducted by YouGov SportsIndex. The study suggests that over 64 percent of the Indian youth have been interested in football compared to other sports in 2019, as against 27 percent in 2013, reports IANS.
The growing popularity of ISL, which has witnessed a 137 percent spike among Indians, has augmented participation levels amongst the youth. In what’s even more appealing, ISL enjoys far greater audience in India than the English Premier League, 2018 FIFA World Cup, and the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup combined, according to data from BARC. The 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup, held in India, had a viewership of 68 million while the English Premier League (EPL) grabs only 18 million Indian eyeballs on television.
Although cricket still rules the roost, football is steadily rising in popularity. Football is now the second-most favourite sport among urban teenagers with 32.3 percent aspiring to be one, behind cricket, which is a preferable career choice for 41.1 percent. More than 270 million tunes in to watch India's premier football league on television while the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia was only consumed by 111 million.
Football fever is gradually gaining ground but is hampered owing to poor grassroots-level training and a regional audience. The ISL, sitting on a very pivotal moment in the history of the league, has given cricket a run for its money. The sixth season has seen a 15.36 percent growth in impressions as the FSDL-organised league has had an average TVT of 32 Lakhs in the first twenty games of the season as compared to 27 lakhs at the same stage in season 2018-19, BARC states.