In India, cricket has been the most popular sport for the last fifty years or so. But most people don’t know that football has had a rich history in India for over a century. Although its popularity tanked with the rise of cricket in the country, football is picking up interest among Indian fans once again, mainly due to the country’s premier football league — The Indian Super League.
Here, we take a look at the top three things you need to know about the ISL.
The ISL is the fifth biggest football league in the world
The ISL is one of the fastest growing football leagues in the world. It is the fifth biggest football league in terms of average attendance per match. Attendance increased by 16% after the pandemic and has been rising every season.
Football also became the second most viewed sport in the country after cricket, and that’s mainly due to how popular the ISL has become. India’s premier football league has an average attendance of 27,111 people per match, which are pretty healthy numbers when compared to Spanish La Liga’s average attendance of 27,700 per match, Italian Serie A’s average attendance of 22,164 people per match and French Ligue 1’s 21,209 spectators per match.
Many ISL clubs have established tie-ups with well-known foreign clubs
ISL clubs like Hyderabad FC and Bengaluru FC have developed successful partnerships with German club Borussia Dortmund and Scottish club Rangers FC respectively.
The tie-up with eight-time Bundesliga champions Borussia Dortmund is a very positive one for a growing club like Hyderabad as it will help them to improve their coaching and youth training programmes. For Dortmund, it works quite well as it helps them to improve their popularity among Indian fans further.
The deal works in the same way for Rangers FC who are looking to tap into the Indian market to improve their popularity among Indian fans. For Bengaluru, a scouting link has been developed that will help Rangers to scout and recruit the finest Indian talents from Bengaluru. The deal also helps them to improve and develop their academy, local soccer schools and grassroots programs.
Social media engagement and viewership rate
The Indian Super League has built an excellent following on social media over the years. Their official Twitter handle has more than 800,000 followers, a lot more than the Italian Serie A, and that tells a lot about the popularity of the league.
It is also the fourth largest football league in the world in terms of engagement on Instagram. The Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) also did an analysis last year, which showed that the ISL recorded a viewership of more than 130 million in the 2021 season, beating previous seasons in terms of ratings and viewing time.