As Bollywood star and team owner Abhishek Bachchan cheered along, Jaipur Pink Panthers defeated the Telugu Titans 46-32 to record the first victory of the Pro Kabaddi League in India.
More importantly, however, was the fact that the opening night received 22 million television viewers on either Star Sports and Star Gold. According to All India Universe, more than 66 million Indians watched the inaugural match.
“This is 10 times higher than that witnessed in India during the opening match between Brazil and Croatia of the recently concluded FIFA World Cup which reached 2.1 million viewers (extrapolated 6.6 million viewers),” says Star.
The same fan support was evident on Twitter as well. Within a half day of announcing the formation of the league, PKL received nearly 140 million impressions, according to Star. Clearly the support of media celebrities like Aamir Khan, Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan and Sachin Tendulkar has helped the league.
“We are very excited about Kabaddi but these are early days,” Star India CEO Uday Shankar said. “At Star we believe in building content on a long term basis and our positions and moods don’t swing based on day one ratings! We strongly believe in the potential of Kabaddi and that is the reason we are working so hard to build it.”
Jasvir Singh of the Pink Panthers was awarded Best Raider for the match against the Titans. Prashant Chavan and Rohit Rana were each recognized with the Best Defender and Moment of the Day awards, respectively.