Pro Kabaddi League 2017 Season 5: PKL overtakes cricket in TV viewership in India
Ever since the inception of Pro Kabaddi League, players, fans, journalists and corporate honchos have all hoped that the league would grow as far and wide as possible in the country. But while there was hope, it was always going to be difficult to dethrone India's so-called 'religion' that is cricket.
However, according to the latest BARC ratings (Broadcast Audience Research Council) in India, the ongoing fifth edition Pro Kabaddi League garnered more eyeballs than the ongoing India-Sri Lanka series which is being played at the latter's home.
Specifically speaking, week 32 of BARC's ratings reveals that over 316 million impressions were registered on Star Sports First (English) and Star Sports 1 Hindi. Star Sports First, which telecasts Pro Kabaddi in English, garnered a massive 206 million impressions. On the other hand, Star Sports 1 Hindi garnered 109 million impressions.
To put things into perspective, the ongoing India versus Sri Lanka cricket series managed to garner just 79 million impressions - 237 million less than Pro Kabaddi's total viewership.
There's another statistic reveals the extent to which Pro Kabaddi has dominated the viewership charts. When you consider the top five sports programs in India, the cricket series doesn't feature on the list at all. On the other hand, Pro Kabaddi League surprisingly takes up every single spot in the top 5.
The Puneri Paltan vs Jaipur Pink Panthers match alone, which was played on 10th August in Nagpur, garnered close to 5 million impressions.
The match between Gujarat Fortunegiants and U Mumba which was played on 11th August in Ahmadabad garnered more than 4.5 million impressions. In fact, among the top 5, not a single match saw less than 4 million impressions.
All this speaks volumes about the quality of the tournament on the whole. Prior to the beginning of season 5, some critics questioned if a longer league, one that spans across 3 months, could ever be sustainable. There were doubts if the viewers would still be engaged like in the previous seasons.
But the addition of four new teams this time around has in fact only added to the quality of the matches. We're only into the fourth week and the fans have had the thrill of seeing multiple close games, a number of which have ended in draws.
The introduction of new players has added an element of uncertainty in the minds of a number of players too, and this has also added to the intrigue of the league.