MUMBAI: In a cricket-crazy country, the game of Kabaddi has found an astounding number of viewers.
As many as 218 million viewers tuned into the Star Sports Pro-Kabaddi league's opening games, according to inputs provided to the channel by TAM.
The TAM data for week 31 shows the league’s reach for the first eight days stands at 72.5 million viewers. This when extrapolated to an all India universe, as per standard industry conversions, means that over 218 million Indians have watched the tournament, according to the channel. Data shows entire families including women, children and youth tracked the league. In all 32 per cent of all viewers were women while 22 per cent were children. The strategy of making the sport appealing to youth has paid off with 25 per cent of all viewers in the 15-24 age segment.
Star India CEO Uday Shankar said, "Kabaddi has every ingredient, including skill, strategy and speed, to emerge as a serious sport and win a fan following. The opening week response is especially encouraging given that it is a true blue Indian sport."
Mashal sports co-promoter Anand Mahindra commented, “To Charu and me, the popularity of Kabaddi was never in question. However we have been genuinely overwhelmed by the support the game has received from all quarters, be it the media, film fraternity, sportspersons or the government. The viewership data further reinforces that Pro Kabaddi could be India's sports revolution in the making."
The strategy of sampling through Star Gold has paid off with a 37 per cent growth in Star Gold’s prime-time slot. The on-line buzz and conversations continue to build with 910 million impressions online in the first eight days of the tournament, in itself a record for a comeback sport.
In its glory days, the sport enjoyed a rich heritage where it was practiced during festivals and after harvest as a matter of celebration. Star endeavors to restore that festive air around Kabaddi and set it in today's context with world-class production, modern indoor stadiums, mat surface courts, jazzy music along with celebrity engagement to make it more appealing to the youth. The broadcast of Star Sports Pro Kabaddi is on Star Sports channels, Star Gold and starsports.com.