Following the advent of the Pro Kabaddi League in recent years, the popularity of this high-contact team sport is soaring in India. But the league is doing more than simply proving the commercial viability of the professional sport: It’s boosting the popularity of Kabaddi overall.
According to Nielsen Sports, interest in Kabaddi has grown by 14% year-over-year since 2015, while interest in the Pro Kabaddi League has grown by 33%, making it the second-most popular and watched sports league on TV in India after the Indian Premier League. Additionally, consumers now view Kabaddi as being more “Modern,” “Innovative” and “Entertaining.”
“Smart production and packaging of content on TV, alongside an innovative take on the construct, format and presentation of Kabaddi has seen the Pro Kabaddi League transform how people are engaging, experiencing and enjoying the sport,” said Ravi Chavan, Managing Director, Nielsen Sports, India. “Widespread media coverage across India, celebrity engagement and an infrastructure overhaul have all led to the increasing marketability of the league and rising audiences.”
From a commercial perspective, the Pro Kabaddi League has created a platform that is affording sponsors high returns on investment, which, in turn, has fueled the engagement of a raft of leading brands and further increases the value of assets the league creates. Now with a longer league format and bigger window for consumer engagement and activation opportunities, sponsor returns on investments have the potential to be even higher.
Last season, Vivo, the Pro Kabaddi League’s title sponsor and a leading global smartphone brand, helped drive fans’ in-stadia experiences and commercial value of live sport attendance. Vivo provided opportunities for fans to be on Perfect Vivo Fan seats also known as “King Seats”; offering the best view of the match from the lap of luxury and making their experience even more memorable by capturing them on live telecast.
Brands like Indo Nissin also partnered to promote Kabaddi and engage the growing fanbase by launching special edition Top Ramen packs across the country last season that included Pro Kabaddi League Player Cards.
But Kabaddi isn’t just appealing to consumer products. The Association of Mutual Funds of India (AMFI) also extended its “Mutual Funds Sahi Hai” investor awareness outreach programme last season by integrating Kabaddi players’ imagery in its TV commercial campaign to connect with fans and make them more receptive to the association’s “Sahi Hai” messaging.
“With the growth of interest in Kabaddi and the widespread reach of Star TV network, a new wave of commercial deals could not only drive the value and marketability of the league, but also engage and grow Kabbadi’s fanbase in a number of different ways,” said Chavan.