An estimated 180 million people from across the world watched the recently-concluded ICC Women’s World Cup in which the Indian team, led by Mithali Raj, ended runners-up after losing to England.

A whopping 156 million people viewed the event in India, of which 80 million was rural reach and 126 million were for the final alone. India’s fine performances contributed to a 500 percent increase in viewing hours in the country. According to an ICC media release, there was almost 300 percent increase in viewing hours compared to the last edition in 2013.

Premier League games can peak at around 3.5million, but the average over the course of a season is just under one million. The global audience of the match is likely to make it the most-watched women’s cricket match of all time worldwide, with the presence of India in the final boosting the overall figures.

According to Indranil Das Blah, founding partner at Kwan Entertainment and Marketing Solutions, a sports marketing agency, these numbers are phenomenal for a sports format that wasn’t really followed earlier.

“I think there is enough appetite for content beyond men’s cricket. The audience watching today is a combination of cricket fans and a brand new curious fan who wants to know what all the fuss is about,”

The numbers are telling, especially in comparison to sporting events involving women held last year. In 2016, the women’s singles badminton final at the Olympic Games in Rio De Janiero, Brazil, on 19 August clocked 17.3 million impressions as India’s P.V. Sindhu took on World №1 Carolina Marin of Spain.

The duel, in which Sindhu went down fighting to win India’s only silver medal, was testimony to the advent of a new television viewer as well. To be sure though, these numbers were calculated across five TV channels and are not exactly comparable. But the women’s finals numbers still pale in comparison to the men’s cricket tournaments.

Official numbers have not yet been released by the ICC, but estimates say the ratings will surpass 150million. The ICC’s decision to ensure that every match was available for viewing either on television or via live-streaming as part of its commitment to the global growth of the women’s game has paid dividends. An extraordinary 156 million people viewed the event in India, of which 80 million was rural reach and 126 million were for the final alone. India’s fine performances contributed to a 500% increase in viewing hours in their country.

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