Pro Kabaddi League: Season Nine saw a rise in viewership
The Pro Kabaddi League's ninth season, which just ended, has a cumulative reach of 222 million viewers, an increase of 17.5% over the 2021 figures after a lacklustre season eight
According to broadcasters Disney Star, who cited viewership data from the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India, the play-offs and final—the last five matches—saw a combined reach of 66 million, up 32%, and consumption exceeded 3.22 billion minutes.
In contrast to the multi-city caravan model, the eighth season was moved to December 2021 and February 2022 in a single location. The seventh season took place from July to October 2019. Between October and December, the ninth season included games at three different locations.
According to Disney Star, PKL viewership increased by 3% in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana and by 8% in Karnataka, making it the most-watched PK season in the state over the last four seasons.
Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu experienced an 18% rise in viewership, while Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh virtually doubled, while Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand witnessed an almost 80% increase.
Most fans returned to watch the new season, and the broadcaster's increased focus on two key markets, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu has resulted in significant increases in viewing in the two markets, according to officials.
The PKL experienced some disruption during its eighth season due to the third wave of the epidemic, which forced organisers to reschedule many of their scheduled games.
“That year, there was a break in the habit of the viewer. There’s a certain habit or expectation that sports fans have and it almost always tends to happen even with marquee sports events like the Olympics or the FIFA World Cup. When that habit of periodicity breaks for any reason, and the event returns after a break, it always gets off to a slightly slow start," said Gupta.
In addition, unlike other sports, where competitions are held throughout the year, kabaddi does not have any other scheduled regular tournaments.
“If we go off the air, there is no other similar event happening altogether. So the sport itself went missing from people’s collective conscience,“ Gupta added.
PKL, which began in 2014 as an eight-team tournament, added four extra clubs in 2017.
Few team owners have previously expressed worries over Disney Star's indirect control of the league, as the broadcaster owns 74% of Mashal Sports, the league's owner and organiser.
In the absence of any other bidder, Disney Star acquired the media rights to PKL for five years in 2021 for a base fee of 900 crores.
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