IPL Blows Away YouTube Projections, Tops 51M Views

YouTube’s (s GOOG) first foray into streaming live sports was far more successful than expected, blowing away internal projections and generating five times more views during the 2010 Indian Premier League (IPL) tournament than it initially anticipated.

As part of its first international sports deal, YouTube streamed all 60 matches of the 45-day IPL tournament live on a dedicated YouTube channel at youtube.com/ipl, and on the IPL’s website at www.iplt20.com.

YouTube’s internal “stretch goals” for the event were 10 million views over the course of the six-week tournament. But interest in the IPL well exceed those expectations, generating more than 51 million views, including this weekend’s championship match between the Mumbai Indians and the Chennai Super Kings. As a result, YouTube says its coverage of the cricket league ranked as the top sports channel worldwide, surpassing global video views of the NBA, NHL, ESPN and UFC. The IPL channel was also the most-viewed and most-subscribed channel in India during that period.

The distribution agreement called for the IPL matches were live-streamed to more than 200 countries worldwide, excluding the U.S. Even so, the U.S. was second only to India in terms of the number of views generated during the event, mainly from on-demand availability of matches after they were aired live. As a result, YouTube opened the semifinal and final matches up to the U.S. audience for live and on-demand viewing.

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