I can say with confidence that a few years ago, if you told Indians about another game that could beat cricket in popularity, then nobody would have accepted. Because Cricket was the second religion for most Indians. Of course there are reasons for it such as some Cricketing legends like Sachin Tendulkar , Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, etc who have taken an irreplaceable seat in the heart of Indian cricket lovers. Cricket brought all the Indians together despite our differences and diversities. Therefore, it was impossible to even imagine a game that could take over cricket.
And on the other hand, kabaddi is a game that nobody would have ever thought will make it to a league like IPL. Most of the kabaddi enthusiasts had began to quit the sport because it could not help them make a living out of it. Because, there was no opportunity, market or support for the sport.
When star sports came up with pro kabaddi league, the players were not given big amount of money as salary. The bidding amounts were nothing when compared to the salary of cricket players. But once they started the league, people from big cities to people from small villages started watching it and soon it became so popular that now the kabaddi players are earning a salary that they could once never dream of. The success continued in all the seasons and right now pro kabaddi is at its fifth season.
According to Broadcast Audience Research Council(BARC) the ongoing pro kabaddi season has garnered more viewers than the recently concluded India vs Sri Lanka cricket series.
In star channels, pro kabaddi is being shown in two languages, Hindi and English. According to Broadcast Audience Research Council(BARC) in India’s reports, Pro kabaddi has garnered 316 million impressions. Here, the star sports English has garnered 206 million impressions where as the star sports hindi garnered 109 million impressions.
On the other hand, the recently concluded India vs Sri Lanka series has garnered just 79 million impressions, means a difference of 237 million impressions.
If you are looking at the top 5 sports on views, then cricket does not feature in the list, where as pro kabaddi tops in all the charts.
The match between Puneri Paltans and jaipur pink panthers that took place on 10th august has garnered nearly 5 million impressions. And if you are looking at the top 5 matches of pro kabaddi on views, none of them has below 4 million impressions.
When the management decided to include 4 more teams to pro kabaddi and extended the league to 3 months, so many had questioned and said pro kabaddi will lose the interest people have on it and thus will lose viewers. But the pro kabaddi season 5 has proved those predictions wrong. I hope every sport gets the same recognition in India. Because no sport can live without public support and many of the local sports are at the verge of declination because of undue patronisation of one game and partial treatment of another. But, the reception that Kabaddi got gives hope to so many games that are marginalised and it is a good sign.
So that’s all about the rise of Kabaddi in India.