The Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) has seen a lot of interest on social media as can be seen by the number of followers and fans of each franchisee but surprisingly, marketers and franchisees have been quite slow to tap into this new audience base.
According to PM Balakrishna, COO of Allied Media, one of the main reasons why the larger brands are still undecided is the fact that the audience still remains largely unknown for this new sport for TV audiences.
“We have to see what kind of audience really watches it and the consistency with which people watch it. Maybe the first day is curiosity. But one will have to see whether it is followed like a league as a sport on television and what kind of numbers it delivers,” he stated in an earlier interview.
The one noteworthy example is Lenskart’s tie-up with Mumbai-based U Mumba and Dogspot.in’s tie-up with the event. Similarly, online lingerie store Zivame has also tied up with U Mumba following the latter’s good run in the tournament. However, we are yet to see a burst of activity on the digital front due to these partnerships. Then of course there is Kishore Biyani’s Future Group, which owns Bengal Warriors. Star Sports’ #jeetegawahi campaign for the tournament on Twitter also saw around 8129 mentions over last 2 months generating over 2 million impressions.
"The Pro Kabaddi definitely won hearts of many Indians, however based on the data we have fetched on valuable brands like Future Group, Indian Oil Corporation, YES Bank or UTV didn’t get a lot of mention on social media as sponsors. The numbers didn’t even touch 1000 mentions. This gives an indication as this was a start they didn’t want to risk big on creating social media strategies around it," said Nitin Bhatia, Director, Agency Partnerships, Indian Subcontinent, Meltwater.
Meanwhile, the franchises themselves need a lot of work to do if they want to add to the buzz on social media. Apart from the likes of U Mumba, which has done quite a professional job of handling fans on both Facebook and Twitter with constant updates and posts, the others still leave a lot to be desired.
For example, Jaipur Pink Panthers has 1,559 followers on its Twitter account and 21,429 fans on Facebook but the total updates so far on Twitter has just been 283. Others like Puneri Paltan and Bengaluru have 27 and 119 updates respectively.
Despite this, Pink Panthers was the most talked about event so far in the league with 3,242 mentions across all social platforms and closely followed by U Mumba with 2,432 mentions, according to Meltwater. This could be attributed to the star power behind Pink Panthers.
Bollywood power has always driven events in India and the case is no different with the Pro Kabaddi League. With the likes of Amitabh Bachchan, Abhishek Bachchan, Aamir Khan and Shah Rukh Khan showing their support, the inaugural Pro Kabaddi League has gotten off with a fair amount of buzz.
The interest generated around the event has also had an impact on the popularity of the sport of kabaddi, which has seen a high number of impressions over the last few months; fed by the interest generated by Pro Kabaddi.
According to data analyzed by Simplify360, Kabaddi has received a buzz of over 21,000 in the last 30 days and around 5,500 in the last 7 days on Twitter. Similarly, an analysis of buzz across social platforms over the last 7 months by Meltwater shows that Kabaddi was referred to or spoken about on an average nearly 7,000 times each month! In comparison, Pro Kabaddi received around 7,500 mentions on Twitter in the last month said the Simplify360 study.
"Kabaddi certainly caught the people's attention since the launch of Pro-Kabaddi League. The number of mentions on Kabaddi itself multiplied three times on Social Media compared to previous months," said Bhatia.
Most interestingly, the presence of players from across the globe has made the Pro Kabaddi League a more global sport. For example, according to Meltwater, though most of the mentions were from India, a significant number of mentions also came from Japan, the US, the Netherlands and the UK.
The Pro Kabaddi League or PKL in India started on July 26, 2014 with 8 franchisees consisting of players from all around the world. It is owned by Marshal Sports under the stewardship of commentator and ex-CEO of Royal Challengers Bangalore, Charu Sharma. The tournament will go on till the end of August.
The 8 teams include U Mumba (owned by Ronnie Screwvala), Jaipur Pink Panthers (owned by Abhishek Bachchan), Patna Pirates, Telugu Titans, Puneri Paltan, Bengal Warriors (owned by Kishore Biyani), Bengaluru Bulls and Dabang Delhi.