A mix of action, drama, and excitement makes Kabaddi an eternally popular sport in India. Its transformation into a blockbuster entertainment and value-driven property took place with the launch of the VIVO Pro Kabaddi League (PKL). Season eight of VIVO PKL will be back on December 22 in Bengaluru and will be broadcast live and exclusive on the Star Sports Network. Fans can finally experience the high-flying raids and defiant tackles after a two-year hiatus. The upcoming season will have 12 teams compete across 135 matches in a single group format.
The glamour, dare-to-challenge ‘Le Panga’ attitude of players flaunting their physical strength, agility through jaw-dropping moves like dubki, lion jump add to the high-octane excitement that VIVO PKL offers. The league has packaged ‘India ka Khel in such a suave avatar that it has risen to become the country’s second-most-watched sport after cricket with 70% of IPL’s audience watching the homegrown sport.
“The average ratings on VIVO PKL have 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 three months,” said Vinit Karnik, Head - Sports, Esports & Entertainment at GroupM South Asia, while talking about the success of season 7 of VIVO PKL and its growth as an established property in an interaction with exchange4media earlier.
The continued faith in the league despite the hiatus can be gauged from the recently conducted auctions for Season 8- in Mumbai where franchises were keen to spend high amounts to secure the best talent in the league. Pardeep Narwal, who in a short span has become a sporting icon in India due to his phenomenal success in the league, became the highest-ever bought kabaddi player by any team in the history of the VIVO PKL, he was brought on board for Rs 1.65 crore. Similarly, franchises continued to back young and emerging talent in the league with raider Siddharth Desai going for Rs 1.30 crore, who was also the costliest buy in the previous season.
Similar to franchise owners, advertisers across the spectrum were quick to identify and leverage the reach and associative value VIVO PKL offers. As per BARC, the seventh season of PKL garnered 1.2 billion impressions and a cumulative reach of 352 million. This incredible success continues to lure both established and emerging brands to associate with the league in a big way. Through the years, a diverse category of brands has been associated with VIVO PKL including Tata Motors, Gillette, Thums Up, Bisleri, AMFI, ShareChat, and TVS among many others.
“The property has seen significant growth over the past few years and it is getting stronger since VIVO PKL has developed a steady fan base. The viewership number has also been steady,” said Jehil Thakkar, Head, Media and Entertainment Partner, Deloitte in an earlier interaction with exchange4media.
VIVO PKL gives brands a plethora of opportunities across TV broadcast, on-ground and social media. Brands can be as innovative as they would like to be. Global grooming brand Gillette found significant value in reaching out to the masses through VIVO Pro Kabaddi League. It found significant value in reaching out to the masses through VIVO PKL to build association for its campaign ‘Break the Beard’ in 2018.
Even as the brands look at the reach and sustained audience base in any brand activation opportunity, PKL offers an added advantage to brands. The opportunity to tap the audience gets lucrative as the sponsorship price is more affordable compared to any cricketing property.
It took just 7 seasons of VIVO PKL to unite the nation to celebrate its home-bred sport. Despite the forced hiatus, the league is set to make a riveting comeback in the minds of both fans and brands.