The Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) Season 6 is witnessing a sharp decline in the Broadcast Audience Research Council of India television viewership ratings, which as of now has accorded the Mashal Sports-run PKL the status of the second most-watched sports league in the country.
The BARC data comparison between the first 24 PKL games for the Season 5 last year and the ongoing Season 6 indicates a 31% decline in the overall Pro Kabaddi viewership. The strong audience base in rural areas that enabled the league flourish is the worst hit.
According to the BARC data, published in a report by business daily Economic Times, the Pro Kabaddi audience in the urban market is down by over 25%, whereas in its rural stronghold it has lost one out of every three audience – a sharp fall of 33%.
The PKL audience for the first 24 games across nine channels in Season 6 has crashed to 237.2 million against 344.7 million for the corresponding period in the last season, reveals the BARC data. The numbers have fallen to 175 million from 261.5 million in kabaddi’s strong rural base, while the urban audience has come down to 62.1 million from 83.1 million a season ago.
Only Star Sports 1 Tamil is reported to have performed better than the previous season. The market is also attributing the 89% gain for Star Sports 1 Tamil over the previous year to the strong local interest on account of the season kicking off from Chennai before the league started running out of steam.
Channel wise, Star Sports 2 (v) and free to air Star Sports First have taken the biggest hit with 45% and 42% decline respectively. Star Sports 1 Hindi (-18%), Star Suravna Plus (-39) and Star Maa Gold (-29% in comparison to Star Maa Movies last year) have amounted to an aggregate decline of 31%.
InsideSport.co has written to the Star Sports PR team for their reaction. The response is awaited. The broadcaster also co-owns the majority stake in the league through Mashal Sports.
The league had created a huge buzz during the two-day player auction in Mumbai earlier this year with six icons getting annual contracts for ₹ 6 crore or above. However, the initials hype has so far failed to translate into the desired results.