Within 15 days of launching, the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) already have a cumulative viewership of 288 million persons. Kabaddi may not have been looked at as a professional sport in the past, but the league’s success proves Kabaddi is the No. 2 sport in the country behind cricket.
The Jaipur Pink Panthers, a franchise owned by Bollywood star Abhishek Bachchan, won the PKL title as they defeated Mumbai U 35-24.
While the viewership numbers in the first season are well beyond any previous expectations, there shouldn’t be any surprise given how closely the league is connected to celebrities in India.
Involving Bollywood stars within a league helps to both attract and keep the public’s attention. Add in the fact that kabaddi as a game is non-stop action and the result is a masterpiece. Not just Bollywood, however, as other big-name celebrities like Nita Ambani – married to India’s richest man – has worked with the league’s management to turn a street game into a global sensation.
For those unfamiliar with the sport, kabaddi features seven players on each side. The raider from each team must run into the opponent’s section, touch the other players and return back to the original side before being tackled.
The league features players from India and other kabaddi-playing nations, including Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Kentya and Turkmenistan.