The India-Pakistan encounter at this year's T20 Men's World Cup garnered a record television reach of 167 million to become the most viewed international match of the format, the International Cricket Council (ICC) said in a statement on Thursday.
The highly-anticipated match had seen Pakistan writing history, beating India for the first time in a world cup fixture. In the thrilling contest, the Green Shirts had inflicted a chastening 10-wicket defeat on their arch-rivals.
Prior to this fixture, the India-West Indies semi-final match from the 2016 edition of the T20 Men's World Cup held in India was the most viewed contest of the format.
According to the ICC, the Pakistan-India match consumed for a record 15.9 billion minutes on the Star India Network by viewers in India, and the viewership for the match grew by 60 per cent on the United Kingdom's (UK) Sky UK. The overall viewership for the market went up by seven per cent in the UK, it added.
Tournament viewership more than ever before
Nearly 10,000 hours of live coverage of the entire T20 World Cup tournament — more than ever before — was offered across television and digital platforms in 200 countries "at the back of increased viewership and consumption in India, Pakistan, the UK, Australia and the strategic market of the USA", the ICC shared in its statement.
"Cricket and sports fans across the world enjoyed unparalleled coverage of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021, when the tournament returned after five years," it said, adding that the event was the biggest ever cricket tournament to be staged in the United Arab Emirates and Oman that "broke viewership records in several regions," the ICC said.
In Pakistan, the cricket governing body said, the tournament was broadcast by three players for the first time, namely Pakistan Television Network, ARY and Ten Sports, which led to further growth in viewership by 7.3 per cent compared to the 2016 edition of the event.
"The overall TV consumption for the full tournament in India was recorded at 112bn minutes and the viewership share amidst younger audiences (children below the age of 15) in the country was at a healthy 18.5pc at the back of a highly successful marketing campaign 'Live the Game' targeting a younger demographic," it added.
In Australia, the viewership increased by 175pc on the Fox Network and in the USA, which the ICC recently named as one of the focus markets for the sport, the tournament was the most viewed cricket tournament ever on ESPN+.
According to the ICC, digital consumption for the tournament saw an "explosive growth" on Disney+ Hotstar in India, adding significantly to the overall television viewership in the market.
"ICC’s partnership with Facebook was a driver for the significant increase in video views, with a total of 4.3bn views across all channels for the tournament, compared to 3.6bn views that were garnered for the 2019 edition of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup," the cricket governing body said.
It added that the consumption of the tournament across the ICC’s digital assets also grew, recording a total of 2.55bn minutes.
"[The] ICC’s social media channels also saw a significant growth in engagement at 618m across those platforms, which is a 28pc jump since the 2019 edition of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup."
Commenting on the matter, ICC Chief Executive Officer Geoff Allardice said that the "outstanding global viewership" showed "the power of T20I cricket to attract a huge audience across the globe on linear and digital platforms".
The ICC's statement quoted him as saying that the governing body was pleased with the significant increase in the viewership, and "it reinforces our belief that there is a significant opportunity and appetite to grow the game in our strategic growth markets including the USA, so more fans can enjoy it, more kids are inspired by it and sponsors and broadcasters want to be a part of it.”