Television ratings have nose-dived for the opening games of the much-hyped Indian Premier League this season, according to figures released on Thursday.
Television Viewer Ratings (TVR) were down 18.7 percent in the first six games compared with the same period last year, said Tam Media Research, India's leading television research agency.
Viewing figures also dipped last year, when the event's fourth edition began less than a week after India's victory in the World Cup at home in Mumbai.
Since its inception in 2008, viewing patterns have showed high interest in the IPL's opening and final weeks with a sharp decline in the middle.
The tournament this year started on April 4 and will be completed with the final in Chennai on May 27.
"I think the whole IPL business model is a bit shaky now and not as robust as it was made out to be when it first started," Sridhar Ramanujam, the head of brand consulting firm Brand Comm, told the Cricinfo website.
IPL chief Rajiv Shukla, who had earlier predicted that the fifth season would be the most successful ever, was not available to comment on the figures.
Leading sponsors have turned their backs on the tournament, a mix of glamour, entertainment and rich purses for the world's leading cricketers playing fast-action T20 cricket.
At least three regular advertisers -- Parle, LG Electronics and Godrej -- backed out from the IPL this year.
The Champions League Twenty20, an offshoot of the IPL which involves leading domestic teams from around the world, lost its title sponsor, AirTel, after just one year due to lack of interest among fans.
The 76-match IPL 2012 has nine teams playing each other on a home and away basis before a four-game play-off.