PKL Season 5: A 360 degree growth story

PKL auction

The Vivo Pro Kabaddi League season 5 has been a complete growth story. If increased numbers and teams were the first raid for a single, long season, the league has scored impressive points in a run of 138 matches, over 13 weeks.

The big gains began with the five-year title sponsorship deal with VIVO in July. The league that was without title sponsor signing for the three years and four seasons since its inception, landed the major catch in an INR 300-crore signing at INR 60 crore per annum.

Thereafter it is a consolidation and growth story for the commercial property of India’s indigenous sport, which had few buyers even for the idea of kabaddi’s professional league.

A study and compilation of data by SMG India presents awe-inspiring numbers.

  • PKL viewership is up by 26% in season five
  • PKL viewership three times more than the India-Sri Lanka cricket series
  • The 10-second advertisement slot rate is increasing year by year
  • The first match of PKL-V attracted 10% of the total Season-IV viewership
  • Urban audience base increasing. It’s 50:50 urban-rural ratio now
  • The ten-second sponsorship is up to INR 1.6 lakh (PKL has INR 6.1 lakh)
  • Vivo gets 6.5-time ROI on INR 60 crore title sponsorship value

SMG India, the data company to conduct the study on the PKL growth attributes league’s steady rise and phenomenal success to the league ownership.

The simultaneous growth in the overall viewership and viewers spending more time to watch a PKL game defines the real success of the league. “It (PKL) is growing because more people have tuned in to watch it and it is successful because the people who tune in to watch kabaddi are spending on time on watching it,” says Joseph Eapen, senior vice-president, SMG India.

“This commercial success should also be attributed to the fact that the broadcaster (Star India) is also the owner of the property. So he has total control over on-air and on-ground inventory, event scheduling and production values of the product,” adds Eapen.

The other point that PKL has driven home this season is that in a week when Indian cricket team has not played a match, kabaddi has been the most watched event in the Indian television sports genre. This surge in the TV viewership can also be attributed to the launch of a private FTA channel, Star Sports First, providing a shift from the sport previous season being telecast over Star Gold to a channel which had deeper penetrations in the rural India.