GroupM ESP divulges factors behind Pro Kabaddi League's popularity

By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media Publishing | July 28, 2015
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As per the report, the top notch game quality, 'best-in-the-world' talent pool and crisp programme packaging made the league 'likable' amongst the audience.

GroupM ESP, (Entertainment & Sports Partnerships), a specialist business unit of GroupM, has released a report that states 'factors behind the growing popularity of Pro Kabaddi League (PKL).'

Uniquely positioned at the intersection of media and marketing, GroupM ESP stated that kabaddi as a sport didn't enjoy huge native fan base to start with. The high decibel marketing campaign ensured relevance and the media push built hype to ensure viewer interest. The top notch game quality, 'best-in-the-world' talent pool and crisp programme packaging made the league 'likable' amongst the audience.

GroupM ESP

The company said that choosing kabaddi as the sport was a bold decision to start with, considering player popularity is low in the country. Having said that, the Indian kabaddi contingent has been immensely successful at the global stage over the years, ensuring early survival of the league.

As for the game format and scheduling, it shared that instead of aping the successful home-away format of IPL, PKL went for a caravan format, keeping the league short and crisp, ensuring the league gets over before the initial hype. Being an indigenous sport, although the players aren't well-known names amongst the audience, the quality of talent pool participating in PKL has been the best in the world.

In the first season, the right-holders managed to keep the expenses, from central as well as team perspective, under check beautifully making the league commercially viable and ensuring deep pockets for the team to spend on players. This, in turn, ensured a level playing field for the eight teams, making the league competitive right till the end and exhilarating for the audience, the report said.

A city-based franchise, the report states, enables association with fans of that particular region resulting in a captive fan base. "Kabaddi, as a sport, doesn't demand major infrastructure, making it easy to host the matches in equipped auditoriums/multipurpose stadiums. This makes the on-ground fan experience memorable. Sleek on-air production and packaging, with informative commentary in regional languages, helps build greater audience connect. Live streaming on Hotstar will add to the on-the-go audience," GroupM ESP shared, in a press note.

Vinit Karnik

High profile celebrity owners are ensuring stickiness to the sport. Other initiatives such as continuously associating with Salman Khan and his movie 'Bajrangi Bhaijaan' to build buzz and getting Amitabh Bachchan to voice the 'Le Panga' anthem, added to the celebrity fervour, the report states.

"Pro-Kabaddi League is a fine example of how a nation that is largely cricket-hungry can have its fair share of adulation, growth and success in a short span of time. It is heartening and optimistic for the business and growth of a sporting economy like ours. As a front-runner in the business of sports, ESP, through this initiative, listed all possible parameters that has made Pro-Kabaddi League a success. These findings are backed by the IIM-A and GroupM ESP report, a comprehensive paper that examines identifying factors for successful sporting leagues," says Vinit Karnik, national director, Sports & Live Events, GroupM ESP.

View the report here:

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