Kabaddi has been locally played in India for a very long time and the game has also evolved over the times. It has been called by different name (kabaddi, hu-tu-tu….) and was mostly restricted to rural areas.
It’s only in the last few years that Kabaddi as a sport has soared in popularity in India and has come to the mainstream media. The pro-kabaddi league was started in 2014 and has received tremendous support and viewership.
Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) commenced from 26 July 2014 and is an eight-city league with games to be played on a Home and Away format. These games are also broadcasted live on prime time TV by the international broadcaster, Star Sports for millions to view across India and the world.
Till date there have been 4 Season of kabaddi with 2 seasons been conducted in 2016 (January and July 2016) due to the immense popularity.
Based on Broadcast Audience Research Council date, Star Sports revealed that the viewership of Women’s Kabaddi Challenge matches surpassed that of Euro 2016. Nitin Kukreja, CEO,Star Sports,said, “The cumulative match viewership for the matches that were held on June 28 and 30 surpasses Euro 2016 viewership”. The event has reportedly become the highest rated women’s game till date.
According to the statement, viewership at all India urban level increased by 36 per cent from 54.5 TVMs (television viewership in millions) in season two to 74 TVMs in in the current. The rural audiences seemed to be equally glued on to the league delivering a staggering 135 TVMs (BARC CS4+ Rural) for its first week this season.
On the digital platform, the league grew by 33 per cent growth in total minutes viewed on Hotstar, the digital platform of Star India, over the first 11 days of the 2016 edition.
Uday Shankar, chief executive, Star India said: “No other sport has grown so fast and gained such wide and deep following with fans across Urban and Rural India, across audience segments – men, women and kids and across screens (television and digital). The sport has truly become a unifier in its appeal, second only to cricket. This brings us a great sense of pride and is a reflection of our commitment to promote a multi-sports culture in India.”
One of the many sporting leagues started recently in India, Pro Kabaddi League has proven to be
amongst the most popular ones in terms of viewership, beaten only by IPL. Here’s a look at the TV viewership experienced on the opening nights of some of the biggest sporting leagues in India: