Cricket might soon lose its proverbial status of the most-watched in India to wrestling. If the television sports audience trends for 2018, reported by FICCI, are an indicator wrestling is positioning itself as the most-watched television sport.
The 2018 has been the year of wrestling in more than one ways – on and off the mat. While the likes of Bajrang Poonia and Pooja Dhanda have been rocking the mat, off it the wrestling league had created new viewership milestones, while Wrestling Federation of India has become first Olympic sports’ governing body in the country to offer annual retainer ship to its top athlete.
Only the Board of Control for Cricket in India has been offering annual contracts to the international cricketers in India.
The FICCI-EY Report on the business of Indian media and entertainment (M&E) has made some interesting observations on sports. Quoting BARC India data (TG: All India / 2+/ 2017 & 2018/Program Theme: Sports), the report has noted that Wrestling overtook Cricket in 2018 in terms of total viewership, on the back of weekly content through the year.
Wrestling has reportedly garnered a 20% share of total sports viewership with Cricket coming a close second at 19%. Within the category, key properties were WWE and the professional wrestling league in the other international events every time the sport is broadcast live in the country.
Graphic courtesy: televisionpost.com
The report noted that Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) has seen a sharp fall of 31% in its viewership ratings for the first 12 matches of its sixth season, compared to the previous year. Over 23.7 crore viewers saw the first 24 matches of the 2018 season compared to 34.5 crore viewers last year, according to televisionpost.com.
Wrestling last year received a major shot in the arm when Tata Motors Commercial Vehicle have come on board and the commercial partner of the Wrestling Federation of India. The WFI also for the first time had engage a professional sports management firm Sporty Solutionz. The company was behind the WFI–Tata Motors historic deal.
With its acute professional approach, the WFI is all set to make several other major announcements in 2019. Insidesport.co has reliably learnt about a couple of other major tie ups in the interest of the sport and sportspersons coming up soon.