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IPL season opener ‘highest ever opening day viewership for any sporting league in any country’

The 2020 Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket season has broken viewing records with its opening match.

The season was initially meant to kick off in March – with Disney+ launching in the country to coincide with this– but play was indefinitely postponed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Playing without fans, the season managed to start on September 19 in a special format from the UAE.

Following the first match, which saw defending champions Mumbai Indians lose to the Chennai Super Kings by five wickets, Board of Control for Cricket (BBCI) secretary Jay Shah revealed that it had broken all viewing records in the IPL’s history.

He tweeted that the match had “an unprecedented 20 million people tune in”, citing figures from television monitoring agency Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC).

He added that it was the “highest ever opening day viewership for any sporting league in any country” and that “no league has ever opened as big as this.”

The rights to the competition are owned by Disney subsidiary Star India, and the figures include linear channel Star Sports India along with Disney+ Hotstar. Star India, which is in the middle of an INR 16,347.50 crore (€1.89 billion) deal through to 2022, also has sold the rights on in a number of countries, including to Sky Sports in the UK, Fox in Australia and YuppTV in a number of Southeast Asian, continental European and South American countries.