Within five months of the completion of its second league, Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) returned with its third innings in a bi-annual format, establishing the popularity of Kabaddi as a sport and the property’s success.
Organised by Mashal Sports and Star India, in association with the International Kabaddi Federation, Asian Kabaddi Federation and the Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India, the on-going league features 60 games across 34 days in eight cities, while the second league will be from July to August.
Star TV is estimated to have invested over Rs 300 crore in this property which includes Rs 150 crore in the first edition, seeing a tremendous business potential which led them to introduce this format with increasing number of viewers and added interest from new sponsors.
Rise in viewership
The second season of PKL witnessed a strong rise in viewership as compared to its inaugural season. There was more engagement with the audience both in television and broadcasting space. According to media reports the second season saw 46.6 per cent increase in television ratings compared to its first year. Which can be attributed to multilingual feeds.
Metros contributed around 65 per cent in television viewership within the first two weeks, while online it was consumed by 26 million visitors. Viewers spent as much as 21.20 minutes per match, on average. PKL had 20 per cent more viewers in the second season, according to data available with Star.
“One interesting observation is that it has done better on mass channels like Star Gold and regional south channels than Star Sports per se. Thus it is better for Star to invest in promoting this through Hindi & regional language channels to gain traction. Thus Hindi and regional language commentary including language renditions on Hotstar will enhance the relevance,” suggests Sandeep Sharma, President, R K Swamy Media Group.
It was reported that PKL was among the most talked about events on social media and has generated around 5.73 billion potential impressions globally across 310,000 conversations so far. What boosted its ratings was Star TV’s offerings from special point of view commentators, timely highlights to pre and post match programming ensuring constant engagement with the audience.
Sharma points out, “The quality of the telecast, celebrity quotient, short duration of the matches, high energy and adrenalin, good commentary in languages, the surround promotion is helping the Pro Kabaddi League. Star needs to constantly innovate on these parameters to build the viewer interest.”
This year rural viewership data for the league will further open up avenues from FMCG, fertiliser and seed companies and add a new section of audience.
2015 saw the network raking in an estimated Rs 50 crore in advertising and sponsorship revenue. Brands on board were State Bank of India, Flipkart, Mahindra 4W, Coca-Cola, Britannia, Himalaya Face Wash and Skore Condoms. This year Star TV, co-owner of the league, has signed up Gionee Mobiles and Fair & Lovely Men's as new sponsors for its third season, apart from retaining its existing core sponsors. And with PKL going bi-annual from 2016, there’s possibility of the property raking in more moolah than 2015.
Even the teams have garnered interest from new sponsors and are looking to surpass their previous season’s sponsorship revenues marginally. For instance, Champions of the 2015 season U Mumba, has managed Adidas, TVS and Tata Motors as new sponsors on board apart from renewing their sponsorship deal with Amul Macho and Enerzal. Even Telegu Titans has brought in Sri Chaitanya group as their new sponsor while keeping intact their old deals with Greenko, Maha Cement and Field Gear intact.
“What we are seeing over here is mass brands latching on to PKL to get a foothold in male audience. Lot more planners are looking for associations which can reach out to male audience and will guarantee higher viewership,” says Dinesh Vyas, General Manager at OMD.
But how will two seasons a year play out for the audience and brands? That’s a crucial question doing the rounds.
“I think it is a good initiative to conduct the Pro Kabaddi League bi annually, considering the decent response from viewers and advertisers. Star has invested in promoting this property and it is important to continue this over a period of time as it takes time to build a new sports property. So bi-annual will mean the gap will reduce between two leagues and will hopefully enhance interest in the sport,” adds Sharma.
“Across all the leagues, PKL has shown most promise. But right now it has to prove its mettle as another formidable sports event that will make people forget everything else,” commented Vyas.