MUMBAI (Reuters) – The June 16 clash between neighbours India and Pakistan attracted 229 million television viewers in India, accounting for over 60% of the screen audience for the first three weeks of the World Cup in the cricket-crazy nation.
The first 27 matches in the 10-team quadrennial tournament, which is being played in England and Wales, attracted 381 million viewers, according to Broadcast Audience Research Council of India.
The Virat Kohli-led side had four matches — including the washout against New Zealand — slotted in during that period, drawing a combined total of 321 million viewers.
The rain-hit, stop-start World Cup match at Old Trafford, Manchester, between the political rivals drew a massive global audience and organisers received nearly 800,000 applications for tickets at the 23,000-capacity stadium.
Official broadcaster Star India is showing the World Cup in six languages, including English.
The broadcaster’s live streaming platform Hotstar saw 100 million daily active users during the India-Pakistan match, making it the highest-ever single day reach for the platform.
The nuclear-armed neighbours have gone to war three times since independence in the mid-20th century – and another conflict nearly erupted earlier this year, giving an even spicier-than-usual geopolitical backdrop to the match.
India and Pakistan have not hosted a cricket series between their countries since 2013 due to political tensions.
However, the national teams have faced each other in tournaments such as the 2017 Champions Trophy and 2018 Asia Cup held in neutral venues.
India extended their unblemished World Cup record against Pakistan to 7-0 after securing an 89-run victory via the Duckworth-Lewis method in the June 16 encounter.
(This story deletes incorrect information from paragraph five after Star India clarified that the match was not the most watched television event).
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by Pritha Sarkar)