NEW DELHI - The Indian Premier League (IPL) is struggling to match the immense interest of last year's inaugural season after organisers were forced to shift the 37-day Twenty20 tournament to South Africa.
The inaugural IPL's TV rating attracted top-spending advertisers last year, but viewers' attention now seems to be wavering.
The IPL is being played between April 18 and May 24 across eight cities in South Africa after organisers failed to get a security clearance from the Indian government due to a clash of dates with the general elections.
Replicating the success of the IPL's first edition in 2008 was always going to be tough, but audience ratings have taken on more importance since the shift away from India has effectively turned the IPL into a made-for-television event.
Local support for the eight city-based franchises is not a factor this season.
The IPL's initial matches seem to have attracted more viewers than last year, but those monitoring the TV ratings say the matches failed to hold viewers' attention.
"The start hasn't been as bright as last year's, but media watchers say IPL's second season still promises to be a big hit on TV," reported The Times of India newspaper.
The Times, quoting audience measurement agency INTAM Media Research, said the first day's IPL telecast from South Africa "notched up a TRP (television rating points) of 5.55%."
TRP is the criterion that indicates the popularity of a television programme. The viewership data is keenly followed by advertisers and media planners for their campaigns.
Last year, the IPL had averaged around a TRP of 5 percent throughout the series, sustaining itself as the top TV programme in the country of 1 billion-plus people across 44 days.
"It was 8,21% on IPL's first day last year," reported INTAM Media Research, which also said that this year's opening day broadcast from South Africa reached more 12 million viewers - roughly the same as last year.
This has been attributed to the matches missing "the gutsy hitting, the sixes, the high scores associated with a Twenty20 game," aMAP research agency chief executive Amit Verma said. - Sapa-AP