Mumbai: Sponsored by brands such as Patanjali Special Chyawanprash, Volini, Thums Up, Syska LED and Indo Nissin, the Kabaddi World Cup will begin on 7 October in Ahmedabad.
The tournament, being televised by Star India, will see 12 countries including India compete for the top spot.
This is the third time the International Kabaddi Federation (IKF) is holding the event in India and will see participation of teams from the US, UK, Australia, Iran, Poland, Thailand, Bangladesh, South Korea, Japan, Argentina and Kenya.
“Though India has hosted the Kabaddi World Cup twice before in 2004 and 2007, it was done in a disorganized fashion. The event was under-funded, under- competed and under-broadcasted. With this World Cup, we intend to take kabaddi in its competitive, sophisticated, global format to the rest of the world,” said Charu Sharma, director of Mashal Sports Pvt. Ltd, and co-founder of the Pro Kabaddi League. He is hoping that the heavy investments and a partnership with broadcaster Star India will put the game on the global map.
Kabaddi’s increasing popularity is attracting brands. “The (viewership) numbers that the Pro Kabaddi League has been delivering are more than what test matches have been delivering. So, it would be fair to say that kabaddi has re-established itself in the cultural consciousness of India, making it a fairly good property for brands to associate with,” said Mallikarjun Das, group chief executive, Starcom India.
Kabaddi World Cup will have more than 32 matches and conclude on 22nd October. According to estimates from media buyers, the 10-second ad spot on the property were priced at approximately Rs1.10 lakh—Rs1.20 lakhs per 10 seconds. For the sponsors, who had worked out bulk deals on the property, the rate was pegged at Rs85,000-90,000 per 10-second ad slots.
To be sure, there is a growing appreciation for the indigenous sport both among rural as well as urban audiences. According to data from broadcaster Star India, about 430 million people watched the first season of the Pro Kabaddi League in 2014, the second-most viewed sporting event that year after the Indian Premier League with 552 million viewers. According to a Star Sports spokesperson, viewership for Pro Kabaddi grew 20% from season 1 to season 2, and 35% from season 2 to season 3.
Beyond this, the Pro Kabaddi League grew not just in terms of viewership but also in terms of sponsorships. According to industry estimates, Season 4 of the Pro Kabaddi League pulled in Rs70 crore in sponsorships for Star India. This is 50% higher than what the League pulled in last year.