Pro Kabaddi League is scoring high on revenue, viewership & sponsors

PKL Season 7 has registered 9% growth in viewership with 1.2 billion impressions

e4m by Sonam Saini
Updated: Nov 18, 2019 10:34 AM



Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) has emerged as the most watched non-cricket sports league in India in no time. The tournament, which was flagged off in 2014 with eight teams, now boasts of having reached 12 teams in just six years.

Unlike the last season that witnessed a 31 per cent dip in viewership data to 1.1 billion impressions from the 1.6 billion impressions of season five, PKL 7 has registered a growth of 9 per cent in viewership numbers and has garnered 1.2 billion impressions, as per BARC India.

As per industry sources, Star India is likely to earn Rs 200  to 230 crore from Season 7. In Season 6, the broadcaster was estimated to earn around Rs 150 crore from ad revenues and sponsorship in and in season five, sources said, it is said to have touched Rs 120 crore.

The league has also been a favourite in terms of sponsorship. Apart from Vivo, which signed its association with PKL as title sponsor for Rs 262 crore for five years, the tournament has been ‘powered by’ Thums Up. The other brands, signed up as associate sponsors, include Bajaj Electricals, Tata Motors, Gillette, Dream11, Honda and R R Kabel. UltraTech Cement, Britannia, McDowell's No. 1 and HDFC are the official partners.

In 2019, the broadcasters managed to get on board other brands with Flamingo and Reforce being first time sponsors for the league.

According to GroupM’s ESP Properties’ Sporting Nation report, all these brands have contributed to around Rs 90 crore to the central sponsorship in PKL. This is considering the fact that Pro Kabaddi, which was usually a July phenomenon, was moved to October in 2018 courtesy the Asian Games.

“In 2018, PKL saw a drop in ratings but in season 7 it regained momentum,” said Vinit Karnik, Business Head, ESP-Properties. There were certain changes in the format this year – for instance from two seasons they went back to one and this has worked for PKL.

“The average ratings on PKL has been all over one and this is very encouraging. If you see any of the TV shows, not too many of them have consistently achieved one rating over a period of three months,” he added.

PKL is a new sporting event and such properties need at least 10 years to show some kind of results. But Karnik says: “PKL has definitely started showing signs of an established property from the standpoint of viewers.”

This year was packed with back-to-back mega events like the IPL, World Cup and General Elections, but that has not stopped the league from getting due attention from both brands and viewers. “The property has seen a significant growth over the past few years and it is getting stronger since PKL has developed a steady fan base. The viewership number has also been steady,” said Jehil Thakkar, Head, Media and Entertainment Partner, Deloitte.

On the markets driving growth for PKL, Thakkar shared, “The sporting event is fairly well distributed. While it does have a stronger pickup in tier II and tier III markets, there is also significant involvement from the Metros itself. It's not intuitively a small town phenomenon."

Apart from PKL’s distribution, Star India has also promoted the league well. “There have been a lot of promotions for the property. In terms of awareness, the tournament is catching up fast, very similar to the way IPL has been progressing every year," said media expert Anita Nayyar.

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