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Women's Cricket

On IPL playoffs noon, viewership numbers of Women's T20 Challenge drastically drop

If the opening day of the Women's T20 Challenge fetched numbers because of evening timing and no-IPL action, Day 2 is turning out to be a drastic show with barely 2 lakhs people watching the Supernovas vs Velocity clash.

Velocity captain Deepti Sharma (left) and Supernovas captain Harmanpreet Kaur at the Womens T20 Challenge

Velocity captain Deepti Sharma (left) and Supernovas captain Harmanpreet Kaur at the Women's T20 Challenge


Sohinee Basu

Updated: 24 May 2022 2:41 PM GMT

Within 16 hours of the opening match between Harmanpreet Kaur's Supernovas and Smriti Mandhana's Trailblazers on Monday evening of the ongoing Women's T20 Challenge, the players were back on a Tuesday summer noon at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune for the second match of the league.

Never mind the unkind scheduling of the matches with the Supernovas not even getting a day's rest in between their matches, Harmanpreet's team was out to play Deepti Sharma's Velocity, hours before the IPL Playoffs between Rajasthan Royals and Gujarat Titans are scheduled for later in the day at Eden Gardens, Kolkata.

If the sight of a stadium filled to its maximum capacity is a sight all-too-common for men's IPL matches (remember the roaring Wankhede scenes and a soon-to-be blaring Eden Garden crowd in Kolkata today), we wouldn't be lying if we say that the number of spectators watching the second match of the Women's T20 Challenge could be hand-counted, if one is a little patient.

Patient, I say because frustration is quick to overpower the senses because the numbers for the women's match are shocking and this is not just for the spectatorship on-ground but also online.

The Supernovas vs Velocity match saw poor numbers on Disney+ Hotstar

On the opening day, the viewership on Disney+Hotstar hovered and stayed close to 7 lakhs for the entire duration of the clash between Supernovas and the Trailblazers, what with it taking place at 7:30 PM - the set time for the men's IPL matches. While this number can be explained because the majority Indian crowd did not have an IPL match to look forward to and could well have, just stumbled across this women's match and enjoyed it and stayed put for the cricketing action that they witnessed.

But that night's over and we are officially into IPL Playoffs day and the traction for the women's game has, therefore, taken a hit, what with it taking place on a Tuesday (weekday) afternoon as well.

But Day 2 is revealing quite the strange but hardly surprising statistics, with no more than 2 lakh viewers watching the match, with numbers also dropping to 1 lakh during the first innings where Harmanpreet produced a beautiful knock of 71.

For the men's IPL, although it would be unfair to even compare, the numbers hardly fall below 15 lakhs even for afternoon matches, which are strategically placed on weekends, as well.

Considerate, but at what cost?

The very fact that the BCCI chose to host the fourth edition of the Women's T20 Challenge during the Playoffs week of its grander and money-rich men's IPL is a little bit of a mystery but the scheduling of the matches is also plain, unfair to the players.

The BCCI took care to see that the timings do not clash with the men's IPL and scheduled the matches of the women accordingly - there won't be any prizes given for mentioning who got the priority in this scheduling, for obvious reasons, it is what it is, especially in India.

So even if the BCCI was 'considerate' enough to not make the timings clash, this does not ensure that they took care of proper viewership of the matches because the numbers are speaking for themselves with hardly over 2 lakh people tuning in to watch this match between Supernovas and Velocity.

While such mysteries may never be solved, we can be thankful that this is the last edition of the Women's T20 Challenge and hopefully, with the BCCI-promised Women's IPL set to take place from next year, these ordeals about numbers, viewership, on-ground spectators won't have to be discussed.

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