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Rural India props up PKL 5 viewership with 75 per cent contribution

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MUMBAI: It was five years ago that kabbadi went from being a game played in playgrounds to captivating the largely cricket-crazy sports audience in India. The fifth season of Vivo Pro Kabaddi League (PKL), India’s most watched non-cricketing property, garnered 1.6 billion impressions for the live telecast according to Broadcast Audience Research Council of India (BARC).

PKL pocketed 3.3 billion gross impressions which is calculated at 30 minutes interval as per the data given by the broadcaster. There is some duplication involved in the gross impressions since the same person could have viewed the programme on two occasions.

Surprisingly, 75 per cent of the total viewership came from rural areas and 43 per cent of viewers were female. Star Sports First, the free to air channel, attracted 31 per cent of the total viewers as compared to its pay counterpart, Star Sports 2, which contributed to just 10 per cent. Indeed, the first week of the tournament itself led to Star Sports First leading the genre with 148,506 impressions.

 The season saw its opening in Hyderabad and finale in Chennai with 12 cities in between. The finale witnessed an 83 per cent rise over the previous year, garnering 25.4 million impressions. The fourth season finale got 13.9 million impressions.

The 140 games in the fifth season grabbed 1.6 billion impressions vis-à-vis 561.1 million impressions during the 60 games last year. The average impressions per game in season 5 were 11 million as compared to season 4's 9 million, a 22 per cent increase.

The league also attracted new fans, including kids (2-14 years) and teenagers (15-21 years) with 19 per cent and 21 per cent share in the total number of viewers, respectively. Tamil Nadu was one of the most successful new markets with the league being televised on Star Sports 1 Tamil. PKL was also broadcast in Kannada on Star Suvarna Plus and Star Maa Movies in Telugu, apart from English and Hindi.

This makes a strong case for advertisers to hop on board a property in which they had very little confidence in its inaugural season. The latest season saw a string of sponsors and partners for individual teams and several brands joined the bandwagon as the matches progressed. Sponsors included TVS Motors, Bajaj Electricals, and Gillette Mach3 Turbo.

Star India EVP and head ad sales Anil Jayaraj had earlier revealed that the sponsorship revenue for this year was 320 per cent higher this year. The sponsors make approximately 15 times the return on their investment.

Star India managing director Sanjay Gupta says that the current season’s aim was to push the boundaries. “India has truly embraced kabaddi. With an expanded league, there were 12 teams competing in more than 130 matches, spread across 13 weeks. That the love for kabaddi is cutting across geographies and demographics is self-evident. It is very heartening to see this response from millions of fans across the country, which has emphatically re-established kabaddi’s position as the most watched non-cricketing sport synonymous with the Vivo Pro Kabaddi League.”

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