Pro Kabaddi League 2017 Season 5: How kabaddi can overtake cricket in the near future
Pro Kabaddi has become one of the shining lights among the different sporting leagues played across the country. It has certainly taken kabaddi to a new level which has reflected in the prices that were put up for the players during the auction for Season 5 and also the viewership in the past seasons. The organisers have done a great job in making the league much more interesting and have created much more excitement among fans by adding four more teams in the league.
The success of the league can be defined by the fact that when the Season 5 began, there was an increase of 59% in viewership over the inaugural day of Season 4. The league also edged the recently concluded India-SriLanka cricket series in terms of viewership by a big margin. According to week 36 data of BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council), Start Sports First and Start Sports 1 Hindi, which telecast Pro Kabaddi, garnered over 167 million and 104 million impressions respectively.
The same week also saw the ODI series and the lone T20 International being played between India and Sri Lanka. The channel Sony Six garnered around 148 million impressions. This shows that the league has already proved that it can successfully surge past over cricket in terms of viewership.
Increased interest for World Cup
One of the important aspects of the growth has been the growth in viewership over previous seasons. The League has always garnered more eyeballs as compared to their previous seasons. This indicates that the league has been able to garner more and more unique audience everytime they have come up with a new season. The success of the league was reflected in the 2016 Kabaddi World Cup held in Ahmedabad.
The previous editions of Kabaddi World Cup hardly had any media coverage or any special attention as much as recent edition had. The tournament got around 114 million viewership which is indeed a very high figure for a sport other than cricket in India. This was the reflection of the success of the Pro Kabaddi league which proves that not only the league but the sport itself has been taken to a new level.
One of the prime reasons behind their success story has been the successful effort to combine the market of big cities and utilising the talent from the rural areas. As kabaddi is a game mainly played more in rural areas of some part of the country as compared to urban cities, the league has actually been successful in decreasing that gap. Although there are not many teams who can give a tough fight to the Indian team in Kabaddi but the Pro Kabaddi League has the teams which create excitement and buzz among fans which in turn helps in growth of the game.
Can kabaddi overtake cricket?
So, now the organisers may be looking to move on from here and reach to a certain level where they can be around the level with the most popular sport in the country, i.e. cricket. There is a long route for them to actually reach that spot but they have shown that for now, they have the potential to reach the level of popularity of cricket, if not beyond them.
The major reason behind the success of cricket is the performance of the team and the level of competitiveness. It has been able to connect with the fans because of the standard of cricket being played and the excitement it creates among the fans.
Kabaddi has got few advantages over cricket. For example, it doesn't require much equipment and area and can get in the heart of people in rural areas across the country over cricket. Kabaddi matches can be organised anywhere, which is a very positive aspect for its growth.
Unlike the cash-rich cricket league matches, Pro Kabaddi can organise their matches in Tier II and Tier III cities easily and can also move towards places having less infrastructure development but higher population. This will indeed make it much more flexible and with the kind of money being involved, it will certainly go into the minds of the younger generation who are looking for a future in sport but facing hurdles in the form of infrastructure and opportunities. With Kabaddi already being played in some rural areas in the country, it can cover the whole nation.
Hardly any of the sporting leagues in India can get in the rural part of the country as Pro Kabaddi can. Once it covers a major portion of that population, it may not be straight away comparable with the cricket leagues in terms of financial profit but can become a major player in the future.
Everyone willing to take up sports as a career aims at becoming a star and making the country proud in international events. With the expectation of kabaddi being included in the Olympics in the future, the league might actually work as a catalyst that can bring people living in rural areas more towards sports and can also increase its fanbase.